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A Dovetail a Day

November 13, 2010

Inspired by a recent blog from Chris Schwarz over at Popular Woodworking I decided to over complicate a recent “honey-do” item.

My wife is looking to make a large plaster slab for throwing pottery. I thought I would whip up a quick wooden mold to pour the plaster into…and then I heard my new Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw calling my name. So rather than quickly screw together the frame I am dovetailing it. I know, crazy. But this is a good practice project for me that if the dovetails don’t look great I won’t be too upset about since the frame will come off once the plaster dries.

All and all I was pretty happy with the process. It was very slow going but I did manage to get one corner fit with almost zero adjustment needed. I did become a bit frustrated though… I somehow managed to cut the keeper side of the pins even after I had marked the waste!!

But end the end I did manage to get a pretty nice fit for using un-planed lumber from Home Depot! Now just 3 more to go.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2010 11:28 pm

    Looks like they’re fitting very nicely indeed. Although, the real test will come once you’re ready to move on to dovetailing hardwoods! 😉

    Back in the summer, I made the same mistake of cutting off the wrong part of the tails – it’s not about how or why you make these mistakes; what’s important is how you go about “fixing” them. After all, once you’ve moved on from scrap wood and test pieces, you’ll reach that terrifying point where your boards are cut exactly to length… 🙂

    It looks like you’ve set your marking gauges so that the end-grain of the pins protrudes slightly past the thickness of the wood… Although this can be trimmed with a router (…or belt sander – it’s a real bugger to hand-plane!), I like to do things the other way, so that the end-grain finishes a fraction lower than the wood, meaning you can than lovely long shavings to clean up the joint.

    Looks like you’re doing great so far!


  2. Walnut Weasel permalink
    November 16, 2010 5:34 am

    Thanks for the feedback Olly. I have hand cut finger joints in hardwood before with just a chisel but no dovetails. I hope to be moved into our new home soon so I can finish up my workbench and move on to some real projects!

    Thanks for the suggestion on leaving the tails/pins short. I may have to give that a try.

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