Help with handcut dovetails !! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-23-2019, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Help with handcut dovetails !!

Okay I've done a few projects involving handcut dovetails and so far I'm doing somewhat okay but far from perfect. My main problem is with the pins. When I saw the pins, I make sure not to remove my pencil marks, that way, I have slightly oversized pins. Once I'm cleaning up the pins with the chisel, I'm always splitting them when paring down to the line. The chisel doesn't follow my pencil line, it simply splits the wood and goes where it wants to go, it's driving me crazy !


Do you guys have a picture or video to help me overcome that problem ?
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-23-2019, 02:13 PM
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I use a guide to hold the chisel against. Just a block of wood clamped to the work at the right angle.

Dave in CT, USA
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-23-2019, 08:31 PM
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Is your chisel sharp? If it's "Splitting" the wood rather than slicing through it that might be your problem.


-T

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post #4 of 10 Old 01-23-2019, 11:14 PM
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what kind of wood is it? and how thick are the slices you are trying to take?
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-24-2019, 03:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeebyWoodWorker View Post
Is your chisel sharp? If it's "Splitting" the wood rather than slicing through it that might be your problem.


-T
Thats what i was thinking too. If a cutting tool is following the grain instead of slicing through it, its generally a sign that the edge isnt as sharp as it needs to be. Its also a possibility that youre trying to take too much of a cut and forcing the grain to split just to let the chisel go through. Solution to that is to not try to take off all the material in one go, instead take a few thin slices

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post #6 of 10 Old 01-24-2019, 09:11 AM
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Did you try using a knife wall as a guide rather than pencil lines?
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-24-2019, 09:54 AM
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I知 not very good at handcut dovetails, so take this for what it痴 worth.

First, instead of using pencil, try using a marking/cutting gauge and knife to lay out the dovetails. You値l get more precision.

Second, I tend to alternate between the chisel and a very fine knife blade as I知 clearing the material. I use the knife to score the grains I want to remove, and then remove them with the chisel.

Third, I知 meticulously precise and small with my cuts. I know some talented people can clear out pins and tails with a half-dozen cuts on each surface, but I知 probably doing 30, 40, 70 cuts with my knife and chisel to clear out the material.

As others have said, super sharp blades are critical.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-24-2019, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for the late response, was away from home. Okay so yes my chisels are very sharp, and I would say the max I cut is probably 1/32" or slightly more but under 1/16" for sure. I was using walnut. By the way, this is my 1st time working with american walnut and while it behaves very well with my handplane, I keep having issues with some dovetails splitting. Is that wood prone to splitting than other woods ?

oh and I do mark all my lines with a knife !
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-24-2019, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlo489 View Post
...I would say the max I cut is probably 1/32" or slightly more but under 1/16" for sure...
Hi Charlo,

First let me validate that "cutting dovetails" is a system of methods in concert. I can reference some video if you would like, but I think from just the shaving size described, you are taking way to big of a bit with your chisels. Cutting dovetails is a strong case of:

"Slow is steady...Steady is Fast!"

Don't rush it. Practice taking shavings thin enough that you can see through them...from beginning to end. Once you have perfected this, you will know the wood and tool much more intimately and can adjust from there accordingly...

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlo489 View Post
... Is that wood prone to splitting than other woods ? ...
In general...no not really...

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlo489 View Post
...I do mark all my lines with a knife ! ...
This is a very good method for those just starting out!
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-25-2019, 09:10 AM
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The other thing to keep in mind is you have to determine which way the grain is running. If is running "in", then the chunk will get bigger on the way down, because it will have a tendency to follow the grain. I'd start near the bottom and take small slivers until you can tell the grain direction. then adjust accordingly.

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