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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lately I`v noticed quite a few threads on dove tails.
I know that some guys here may think this is to simplistic a subject to start a thread on and there is plenty of stuff on youtube but I think they really miss out on a lot of simple things that are just taken for granted.

Like using the kerf to find the way of least resistance or adressing the piece things I leaned as a boy and have stayed with me all the way.

I`d like to show the methods I use to hand cut through dove tails and half blinds it would be great when Guys join in and describe how they do it or better yet post pics.

With my typing skills it would be a lot of work for me so I don't really wont to be speaking to my self so is any one up for or is it a none srarter. billy
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So guys four of us to start the journey sit back and enjoy it.
Judging from the hits on the thread I think more are interested and I hope they come out of the woods and join us,I sure would like a bit of feed back.

First I`m not setting my self up as an expert just a Carpenter and any thing I show here is what I learnt as a Apprentice and added to over the years,any time any one wants to ask a question go right ahead if I know the answer I`ll give it if not I`ll say so,and no BS.

I`ll take this right from the start as if this is your first wood work project so don`t take offence if it sounds really simple.

There is no right or wrong angel for a dovetail but when Carpenter`s talk about dove tails they talk in ratios IE 4in 1 written 4:1 or 6:1or what ever.

What is meant by this? Simple I will be cutting the dove tails at 8:1 so I pick a piece of scrap wood up and measure one inch across the short grain and 8inches along the long grain connect these two points with the blade from a sliding bevel and that is my 8:1. Simple More to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok tools you`v come across the first one a sliding bevel some guys call it a sliding T bevel I think every carpenter carry s them in his kit I have three but still don`t think that's enough.

A couple of years ago I came across a self employed guy on the net making dove tail templates Richard Kell he came over as a regular guy
and I`V been using it ever since,no big deal a sliding bevel will do you just as good.

Back to basics face side face edge .Whats that?

It doesn't matter whether I`v finished a piece of wood by hand or of the machine I mark them face side with a loop(that's the widest side) and face edge with a v(that's the edge) .Face side and face edge must be square to each other and strieght.

NO matter what piece of timber you use on any job these are you reference marks and you only square of these two sides .

Marking the base line you can do this with a square and a knife placing the square only on the face side and the face edge.
why?
Because if you don't when you square the line around the board you will be very lucky if they join up and if they don't join up this will mean that the base line on the out side will be at a different height to the base line on the in side and this will create gaps and you haven't even started.

The base line must be square.
I use a knife Why because my target is the three s`,what's that.

Square

Sharpe

Shoulders

I use a marking gauge because I know my edge is square,its a old marking gauge but I love it.
I set it at just a bit wider than the boards and scribe right round both pieces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Next instalment you need a vice it dons t matter what sort of a vice but you need one.
I mark the tales first, because that's the way I do it I`m not going down the road of pins or tails first that's just the way I do it.

Place the piece in the vice and mark the tails using a knife square your marks over the end grain I like to use a small 6" square its not so cumbersome as a 12" and mark the other side.

The marks are not deep marks so I take the knife place it in the marks and tap it to freshen the marks up I want the shoulder sharp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok next tip here I picked this up of the net and really like it.
GO to the left hand side of the piece and press the knife into the the knife mark where they meet on the corner at a 45 degree angle and then come at it from the waste side and take a chip out of it,it gives you a perfect resting place for the saw and will guide you along your cut line.I`m right handed so by doing this it puts the saw on the right hand side of the line and me on the left hand side of the line so I`v got a perfect view of what I`m cutting.

Time to talk saws these are the 2 saws I use to cut dove tales The gents saw I`v had for over 40 years and the brass back for just under.

Not so long back a re handled both of them the judge is still out on the brass back.

Brass backs are the real thorough breeds the brass looks nice but that's not what its there for its to give the saw weight you have to hold these saws back with the weight they really want to tear into the wood and you just cant let them do it.


You have to take the weight of the saw and pull the weight into your hand you need to balance it finely in your hand its like pulling a race horse back let it go and it will rip into the wood and you will loose direction on it.
You control the weight and just move them back and forwards concentrate on following the line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I'm loving this post and am on board for the long haul. I like the chipping out the tail trick for the saw ledge too. I'll have to try that. I don't know why I never thought of that, I do that for other sawing. Once you get done we'll have to have others show their methods too. I'm guessing just about all of us can learn a tip or two or the whole darn process on this thread!
ACP that's what I`m looking forward to also it always great to learn new things.

Sawdust that`s something to to look forward to I believe Rob Cosman wont let any one par their joints I think I would struggle there
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Ok a few more words to tools, even up to the point of when I bought my brass back I couldn't make my mind up whether I wanted a dove tail saw or a tenon saw so in the end I went for a compromise, with a blade from 12" its a bit to long for a dove tail but with 16TPI its cut like a dove tail saw so it like a dove tail saw on steroids.

What do I mean by TPI, well "teeth per inch" there is also another measurement PPI what's that, "points per inch".
the difference is TPI counts the whole teeth per inch and PPI only counts the points per inch so 16TPI could also be 17PPI.

Hows that worked out? with PPI you lose 1/2 a tooth at the start of the inch and at the end of the inch so this gives you 1 extra point.

Confusing yea but not worth worrying about just something to note.

Both dove tails and tenon saw are rip saws because they both cut on the long grain of the wood.

Sharpening, Brink posted an excellent link not so long ago maybe he`ll post it again? save me a lot of work.

Coping saw or fret saw? Neither one is wrong its what floats your boat,I use the coping saw but the fret saw has a lot thinner blade and is able to start the cut straight from get go.
The coping saw you place in the kerf and twist as you start to cut.
I`v posted a pic the coping saw is on top.

Chisels well there's no getting away from sharp chisels and there is a lot of information on how to get and keep them sharp on the forum already.
I think you would need a minimum of 1/4",3/8",1/2" and maybe 3/4" bevel edge firmer chisels but TJMO.you need to keep in mind what chisels you have when laying the dove tails out.

JMO but I think there are some good bargains on second hand and old chisel,named chisels are old chisels with the makers name stamped into the steel if the maker was proud enough to put his name on it I don't think you will go far wrong.
If you`v never fetteled a chisel maybe just pick one up and try it what do you have to lose?

I`v posted pic`s of two chisels that I didn't really want but I think the tool gods would have been evel with me if I left them, both beat up a1/2" sorby, one of England's finest old chisel makers, that was being used by a painter to open his paint cans.I gave him a big screw driver for it(he was more than happy) and a 1" W marpels. old school.

SKew chisel I`ll be using them later.
Parring chisels a real pleasure to use so thin that they are never struck with any thing a cutting edge of 25 degree`s and that's it I have 3 and while they are not struck I put Plum handles on them I love these chisels.

Fish tail chisel its really a carvers chisel but comes into its own when cutting half blind dove tails it looks like a thin chisel that's been flattend out on the end with a hammer super sharp the advantage over the skew is that you don't have to keep changing chisels but the one chisel will cut on both sides left and right.

Phew I think i need a rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
So back to the job the tails are marked out and now it`s time to start cutting, first we have to address the piece .What do i mean by that? Well we all do it but we've been doing so long we don't even think about it but a new guy would.
Put the saw where you want to cut,set your feet a little apart but steady, place your shoulder directly behind the saw,your elbow in line with the saw and your shoulder ,grip the saw with three fingers and your thumb your index finger against the handle but pointing straight out.


What`s that with the finger?If you hold the handle with all four fingers and thumb you get no feed back if the saw wants to tip one way or another.
Extend the index finger and it becomes an extension of the arm and you can immediately feel if the saw is tipping and the wrist automatically corrects this,IMHO Disston understood this and that is why he cut away the saw and moved the handle further into the saw to give even more control over the saw.

Its only when you try to replace something that you know just how and why it works.the horns on the handle are not there for decoration the top horn fits between the thumb and index finger to allow you to push when needed, the bottom horn fits just under the fleshy part of the thumb and allows you to control the weight of the saw. (see pic)


The method of cutting that is now describe is an an adaption of how to cut the cheeks of a tenon.
Start by moving the saw forward not backwards but forward watching the knife lines on the top and side.You`ll have to blow the saw dust away as your doing it or you wont see the lines.
You finish with a cut line 45degrees in the piece.(see pic)

Later when confidence and skill increase you can then bring the saw back level and continue the cut strait down but for now stop there.
I`v cut all three cuts on the face side turned the piece around and cut the three cuts on the back turn it back again so what you have now is all cuts complete but with a solid piece of wood right in the hart of the cut in this manner you use the kerf twice to guide the saw and use the path of least resistance.

I hope this makes sense so far if, not say so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Sorry guys you posted all that when I was typing.Brink thinking isn`t the word for it BTW some guys where asking about sharpening saws have you still got that link if not I`ll come back to Sharpening later.I have never had any one explain to me a rule of laying out dove tails if there is one and some one knows it lets hear it and we can all learn. If you use one rule I think you will have to explain how it works say in a London dove tail and there is such a thing its more tail than pin.

The only rule I know is it must look right then it is right, because it is hand cut.I`v never had any client complain that one tail was thinner than another but I think you would hear them complain if there was gaps in it. In some cases if you are to continue with the job you must cut a tal thinner or through half the job away.To me that's the way of hand cut dove tails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
So more pics than words because it`s to long for Dominick.
Cut out waste with coping saw.
The piece clamped to the bench because I don't want it bouncing around all over the place.
A tip for guys that are not quite sure on holding the chisel square fasten a bloc on the bass line and creep up on it when you chop the waste out.

Chop half way and then turn it over but leave a small piece in the middle because if you try to chop half and the half you will burst a piece out of the middle of the joint

Clean up with a paring chisel or a sharp bevel edged chisel.Try to make sure the tails are really clean where they meat the bass line.

Set the chisel in the knife marks and par into the middle of the tail from both sides, don't try to do it from one side because you could burst the wood on the out side.

so all cleaned up and ready for the pins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
So this is where a tail could end up smaller than the others its time to check the tails for square.

Why is this so impotent? When you use the tails for the template to cut out the pins you use the bottom of the tails to mark out the top of the pins if its not square at this stage you will have problems either gaps or too tight, to fit on.
So now is the time to do something about it if it means re cutting a tail then just do it, you can`t leave it if is not square.

Because I use a knife to mark out I don`t want any danger of either piece moving I use 2 mitre clamps to fasten every thing down before I mark the tails.Line the bass line up to the piece and mark with a knife.

Freshen the marks up then square the lines down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
When I started this thread I made a point of saying I was not setting my self up as an expert,or for that matter a dove tail king.

In this post I will show you 2 mistakes I made, on one pin when cutting the chip out I cut it out of the wrong side of the line.
On the same pin on the other side when cutting the chip out I just caught the pin and nicked it

Lack of concentration just no other words for it,Thats when I wanted To Launch this piece a cross the shop.
I thought what to do, cut another piece but some how I thought that's just cheating and mistakes are a part of the job as well.

I then thought if this was a 2" slab of teak that I was cutting in a coaming for a companion way on a boat there is no way I would be throwing it away but just get on and make it work.

So I just got on with it,in the first pic I`v cut out the pins and you can see the 2 chip out of the pin.
I didn`t show the cutting out or the chopping and parring of the joint it`s just a repeat of what was done earlier.

The second pic shows the glue up .

If you can remember when i started to mark out the job I set the gauge slightly bigger then the thickness of the wood this means that the tails and pins are proud of the wood and must be pared away.
When parring like this I like to use the corner of the chisel and sweep it into the wood,I don't par all of the wood away I leave a small piece on the outside edge and come at it from the side sweeping back across the wood.

So then clean up and finished job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Dwillem26 thanks for this post perfectly 8:1 does not matter perfectly square does and that you have tried hand cut for the first time makes this whole thread for me worth while.
 
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