Can a rookie make dovetail joints? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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Can a rookie make dovetail joints?

I just completed a workbench. The plans for drawers call for either dovetail joints or an alternative method. I know dovetails are "better" but seems very intimidating. I have a router with a dovetail bit. I'm going to buy a woodworking book for reference.

Should I give it a shot or just use the easier alternative joint?
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post #2 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 10:37 AM
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ws....I have a router and the bit as well but I cant bring myself to buy a jig. Cut by hand, always have and probably allways will. Theres a learning curve either way. Perhaps a better choice for you would be a lock miter or something similar. You have the router, just need the bit. Oh...and I guess a table to go with it. Wouldnt want to try that freehand.
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post #3 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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12penny,

Router, dovetail bit I have. What kind of table would I need?
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post #4 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 11:24 AM
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Dove tail jigs come with instructions. Use some waste boards to play with it. If you don't try...you'll never know.
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post #5 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, I looked up jigs and now it seems easier. I'll give it a try.

Thanks
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post #6 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsommariva View Post
12penny,

Router, dovetail bit I have. What kind of table would I need?

ws...what I meant was, you have a router and all you need to do a lock miter joint is the bit. But if you dont have a router table I dont think you could do them anyway.

What was the alternative joint on the plans?
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post #7 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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A simple joint where you remove a part of the side or end and then glue and nail.

Since the drawers may get heavy, I'm leaning to the dovetail. I can buy a router table if I need it.
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post #8 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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It's called a dado/rabbet joint.
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post #9 of 26 Old 01-13-2010, 10:55 PM
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Can a rookie make dovetail joints?-drawer-joints.jpg
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post #10 of 26 Old 01-14-2010, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsommariva View Post
12penny,

Router, dovetail bit I have. What kind of table would I need?
You just need some type of work surface. While certainly not the best, even a sheet of plywood across two saw horses will work. Just something to place and fasten your work to.

On the original subject. Yes a rookie can make dovetail joints. I go so long inbetween making dove tail joints that I am a rookie every time. I have to go back and relearn.

A good dovetail jig is the key, unless you want to go freehand.

George
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post #11 of 26 Old 01-14-2010, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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I have an 80" x 30" workbench, so I'm ok there.

I'm torn between the dovetail and the dado/rabbet alternative.

I'll give it some thought and make my decision.

Thanks for the the input.
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post #12 of 26 Old 01-14-2010, 04:00 PM
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Hand cut your dovetails. Everybody's a rookie the first time they try it, but it is very easy. Go to Amazon and check out the Franz Klaus DVD "How to Dovetail a Drawer." He gives you step by step intructions on how to set up and cut the dovetails. You'll be amazed at how easy it is. The video is less than $20 and you'll need a decent dovetail saw, a marking gauge and a couple of inexpensive chisels. Total investment: $80 to $100. Once you get the hang of it you can look into higher quality tools.

Good luck and let us know what you end up doing.

Kevin H.
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post #13 of 26 Old 01-14-2010, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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I found and Porter and Cable jig that got good reviews. I think I'll go with that if I decide on the dovetail. Since I may never make another drawer, maybe that dado/rabbet is the way to go since I have the tools needed for that.
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post #14 of 26 Old 01-15-2010, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsommariva View Post
I have an 80" x 30" workbench, so I'm ok there.

I'm torn between the dovetail and the dado/rabbet alternative.

I'll give it some thought and make my decision.

Thanks for the the input.
You can make the dado/rabbet style joint very quickly and easily with a table saw or router. Glued and screwed it is a very strong joint. The lock miter joint is also very strong, but you would need to buy the bits.

Gerry
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post #15 of 26 Old 01-15-2010, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Good to hear as I have decided on the dado/rabbet joint. Now, just to get everything square!!

Thanks everyone.
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post #16 of 26 Old 01-23-2010, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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All done with my three drawers using the dado/rabbet joint. First time working with a dado set, so the resluts were good for me.

Thanks again everyone
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post #17 of 26 Old 02-05-2010, 06:51 PM
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In my judgement, you're not a real cabinetmaker until you can execute this joint (and several others) quickly and cleanly. When you can demonstrate hand cut dovetails, no one can say you're not a cabinetmaker. At my job (high-end house joiner) I keep a beautiful hand dovetailed wooden toolbox, with several small trays and dividers. Every time someone asks me can I make so & so (they know me only as a carpenter) I simply ask them to look at my toolbox. Question answered every time.
As for the router method, this produces very strong and handsome (to the untrained eye) joints, and is very easy to do. I used the Keller through jig; it's excellent, but will only cut through joints. If a joint has to be half-blind, I say hand cut it. More expensive jigs will produce all manner of half-blind joints. A snotty woodworker like me will derogate these machine-made joints because of the regularity of the spacing (improper spacing to my eye) and the fact that the neck of the pins is so fat. No router bit can cut the skinny slots between the tails for the pointed pin that I like so well.
I'd like to offer you encouragement to continue, and to do the drawers dovetailed whether you choose machine or hand-cut. You've done the bench, now do the drawers right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the lock mitre joint suggested in this section, but we're looking for more than straight utility here. (by the way, did I forget to recommend that you NOT put drawers under your workbench?). The dovetail joint will be confusing to you when you begin and you will probably experience a few abortive attempts before you can get the jig to produce the results you want. It would be more so for the hand-cut version. Before you learn to hand cut, you simply will not understand the joint in a gut way. While you're learning, you will make numerous mistakes, and should expect frustration. After you've done it a good bit, it'll be simple and clear, and you'll be able to execute a joint that makes women take off their clothes for you.
I and I suspect others would be glad to guide you further onto the perilous path. "if only you'd taken the blue pill"
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post #18 of 26 Old 02-07-2010, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Sean,

I can relate your response to my own career as a CPA. 30 years ago we used pencils and accounting paper with up to 20 columns or so. You get to learn theory and the right ways to do things. Today, everyone gets a printout and THINKS it's correct.

I wasn't even going to to make drawers. I decided to for the challenge and the experience. I used the dado rabbit joint, and I made lots of mistakes. The drawers came out very nice for a rookie. Not commercially viable, but I'm happy with the results.

If I need to do dovetails I'll use the router/jig method; I'm glad you say it's easy. My next project is a windowseat bookcase combo for our dinning room. This is going to have to be done with no flaws.
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post #19 of 26 Old 02-07-2010, 05:51 PM
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I'm a bit of a rookie myself and I was originally scared of dovetails. But then I had to make a drawer so I gave it a go, using hand tools. I approached the job with some degree of trepidation and took my time and worked carefully. To my considerable surprise, they came out quite reasonably. Though, unlike Sean Macdougal above, they did not prompt any women to remove their clothes!

Since having done them once, I am no longer afraid of doing dovetails and actually look forward to it now. I've never tried a router but to me the great fat pins you get with machine dovetails look disgusting.
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post #20 of 26 Old 02-07-2010, 07:13 PM
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To take a different point of view

Quote.....rough joints. If a joint has to be half-blind, I say hand cut it. More expensive jigs will produce all manner of half-blind joints. A snotty woodworker like me will.......Quote

The cheapest jigs from HF. Jet, Woodstock, etc. will only produce half blind DT's!
http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=552494

I got 3 Jets on sale for $30.00 each close out. All set to different sizes, never have to adjust again......set up is a royal PITA. Depth of cut is critical.....use a dedicated router on each jig.... bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-07-2010 at 07:18 PM.
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