Dovetails.... Help! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 10-11-2013, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Dovetails.... Help!

Have made about 2 doz dovetails, and they aren't getting any tighter. I think I am missing something. I want to know how to cut them with a saw and chisels before I move to a router. The base of the female side is always choppy and the sides of both the male and female are rounded. What am I missing?
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post #2 of 18 Old 10-11-2013, 08:56 PM
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Well - I can honestly say I've never heard the term male and female used in reference to DT's...

That aside, can you post pictures of the problem joints so we have a better idea of the issue?
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post #3 of 18 Old 10-11-2013, 09:16 PM
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In addition to dovetail saw and chisel, I'd also highly recommend a coping/fret saw for removing most of the waste before picking up a chisel.

Once you post some pictures help will be forthcoming. In the mean time, here is one of several tutorial threads on hand cut dovetails. http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f11/h...ew-guys-35853/

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post #4 of 18 Old 10-11-2013, 09:31 PM
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I have never made these by hand, but if or when you start doing it with a router. If the joint is loose, lower the bit (more bit sticking out from the router), if they are tight raise the bit in the router. Doesn't take much, less then you would think, I move it 1/64 at a time until I get the fit I want. Dovetails are nice, but no one can do them without test pieces, not even Norm Abram ..lol...a friend of mine has one router he uses for dovetails, never takes the bit out or uses the router for anything else...lol...I can't afford to do that, so I keep the final test piece with my jig, so I can reset my router and I still have to do test pieces. Final note don't even think about doing dovetail joints with a cheap router, it won't be near accurate enough or hold it's depth long enough to do the job, you'll just go crazy, and if you have a choice, use 1/2" shank bits, your cuts will be much better.
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post #5 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. I will try to get pics of my work later today.
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post #6 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoNavy429 View Post
I have never made these by hand, but if or when you start doing it with a router. If the joint is loose, lower the bit (more bit sticking out from the router), if they are tight raise the bit in the router. Doesn't take much, less then you would think, I move it 1/64 at a time until I get the fit I want. Dovetails are nice, but no one can do them without test pieces, not even Norm Abram ..lol...a friend of mine has one router he uses for dovetails, never takes the bit out or uses the router for anything else...lol...I can't afford to do that, so I keep the final test piece with my jig, so I can reset my router and I still have to do test pieces. Final note don't even think about doing dovetail joints with a cheap router, it won't be near accurate enough or hold it's depth long enough to do the job, you'll just go crazy, and if you have a choice, use 1/2" shank bits, your cuts will be much better.
talk about cheep router and table, i bought 2 of these for dovetales and pin's, i thro all of the junk off the top , the link and pcirute http://www.ryobitools.com/catalog/po...rotary/R163RTAand used the table with the gifkn's dovetale jig here is the link for the dovetale jig , cost is high but it will make dovetales and pin's the first time and fit tight i have made 100's of box's and the cheep router's keep on working and working the cost for the router and table was $100.00 not bad here is the link for the gifkin's unit and utube videl i have had this jig for yrs, now and it keep's working perfect for me . http://www.ryobitools.com/catalog/po...rotary/R163RTA

http://www.japanwoodworker.com/categ...d-box-jig.aspx
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post #7 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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I have a router, I just wanted to learn how to cut them by hand first.
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post #8 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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I just put this together. This one took about 45 mins.
Also, these are the tools I used.
I don't have a dovetail saw, so I have been using the coping saw to get close, then chisel out the rest. I don't have much luck with my scroll saw.
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post #9 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 07:21 PM
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Ok - where's the problem? It looks fine to me.


Other than that being a 5 min dovetail I don't see the issue.

As for not having a dt saw I can remedy that. Go look at the "batch order" thread in the hand tools section. It will be open for about another week.
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post #10 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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The problem I am having is it's taking so long to cut them, and that was an unusually good one. If everyone after that looks like that I will be surprised. Regardless, how do you cut that in 5 mins? I don't think I could even lay the cuts out in that time.
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post #11 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 07:51 PM
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The one you show looks pretty good! I've had many that looked worse than that on projects I've done.

A comment on your tools. A coping saw is always going to give you problems with your main cuts. I use a coping saw only for cutting the waste to minimize the amount of chisel work.

The problem I think you are having (rounded corners on the pins and tails) is due to the flexing of the coping saw blade. If you want to continue with hand cut dovetails, you will need to use a different saw. The coping saw blade flexes way to much and it is too difficult to get a straight, flat cut. I understand that you are cutting wide of your marks and then using a chisel to trim, but that is just doubling your work - as well as introducing another source of error in your cut.

It doesn't have to be an expensive dovetail saw. Until just recently, I only used an 8" gents saw (~$20) for dovetails large and small. You can of course spend as much as you want, but a gents saw is a good entry saw (if you aren't bothered by the handle style).

If you are getting a choppy, uneven base line I would guess you are putting the chisel right on the base line and hitting it with the mallet to chop waste away. When you do that, the chisel of course cuts down, but the bevel also pushes the back of the blade into the baseline creating an uneven line. The better way to cut waste is to use the chisel/mallet to remove waste to within about 1/16" of the baseline, then use paring cuts with only hand pressure to remove the last little bit.



EDIT: Others replied while I was typing. It's taking you a long time to make them because you are cutting wide of the line and then chiseling back to it. If you had a decent dovetail/gents saw, you could cut right to the line and wouldn't need to do any trimming with the chisel. You'd just make your main cuts, trim waste with the coping saw and then do a little paring with the chisel back to the baseline.

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Last edited by trc65; 10-12-2013 at 07:57 PM.
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post #12 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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As far as the dovetail saws go, I have been reading up in how to make my own. I have the steel for the blade. I actually have two pieces if you want one. I can get you it's size if you are interested. I work at a factory, and it was scrap from another project.
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post #13 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drobbins329 View Post
As far as the dovetail saws go, I have been reading up in how to make my own. I have the steel for the blade. I actually have two pieces if you want one. I can get you it's size if you are interested. I work at a factory, and it was scrap from another project.
Cool, myself and a couple others here have threads on toothing and sharpening but there are even better resources on the matter floating around.

Tim covered the bulk of it tool and technique wise - as for layout: don't over think it. Make an angle guide from scrap, use a bevel gauge or just use muscle memory. I use a marking gauge to mark the depth and if it's a long piece I mill march it out with a rule or dividers but that is the only marking I do and rely on muscle memory.

With a back saw that muscle memory I refer to will begin to develop. When teaching I have students square the board in the vice (for all joinery ripping) before starting as it goes towards building that skill of cutting straight. If you consistently work from a plumb line the body learns a bit quicker.
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post #14 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drobbins329 View Post
As far as the dovetail saws go, I have been reading up in how to make my own. I have the steel for the blade. I actually have two pieces if you want one. I can get you it's size if you are interested. I work at a factory, and it was scrap from another project.
I would recommend you buying a DT saw. You will see a difference in how well you can control the cut over using a coping saw. Your chisels may need to be sharper. After some practice, you'll see the difference.






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post #15 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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That is something else I struggle with... Sharpening chisels. Knives are a walk in the park for me. I'm pretty sure I can get my various knives sharper than my chisels.
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post #16 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 09:54 PM
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That is something else I struggle with... Sharpening chisels. Knives are a walk in the park for me. I'm pretty sure I can get my various knives sharper than my chisels.

There are lots of threads on sharpening in the Hand Tools Forum. If you are free hand sharpening your chisels and struggling with it, I'd recommend getting a guide to use with them. A simple side clamp guide is as cheap as $12 and can make a lot of difference.

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post #17 of 18 Old 10-13-2013, 01:08 AM
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Your dovetail looks pretty good to me. I tried one and it turned out so bad I was disgusted with it. I have a PC jig for them but I refuse to use it until I can do them by hand just because I'm stubborn. So far I really suck at it but I had a good time doing it and got a few laughs afterwards at how bad it fit.

I'm a newbie to sharpening but I bought a 250/1000 combo waterstone and a guide and got my cheap dewalt chisels pretty sharp doing it the first time. I can see how people experienced at using both can get really good results.
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post #18 of 18 Old 10-16-2013, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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For updates, see my post about building a dovetail saw in the hand tools section. I don't know how to link from my iPhone.
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