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novice dust maker
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162 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. I've got a few newb questions/problems that I'm hoping you experts can help me with.

As I progress a bit in making furniture and such, I really would like to learn to dovetail. I've used butt joints and rabbits exclusively. I feel the dovetail is a must known skill to move forward. And I want to hand cut them first. Just seems right to do it that way.

Anyway, in searching for just the right tools for the job, I'm stumped. What do you use for removing the waste material? Coping or fret saw? Do you use a special spiral blade? I can't figure out how to turn the blade at the bottom of the angle cut to remove the waste with my coping saw now. Is the blade too wide or just operator error? It's a 15 tpi standard blade.

Also curious about which new backsaw I should get. I want a good one, but I'm not about to drop coin on a Cosman. I need to stay under $50 if possible.

Thanks in advance for any help you can throw my way.
 

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Everyone has their own special methods and tools to cut dovetails. You can find a video of Tage Frid cutting them with a frame saw. Some folks like push style western back saws, others like the Japanese pull type saws. Rather than try to cut out hunks with a coping saw, I like to cut a series of close together kerfs in the waste, then a chisel will remove those with just a push.

One trick for turning corners with a coping saw is to twist the blade. As you push down the blade will turn the corner, then straighten the blade to continue. That's what the small levers at the blade clips are for.
 

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novice dust maker
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162 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
hey hammer, thx for the reply. I'm trying to twist the blade, but it seems to wide to made the turn. Just wondering if there was a thinner blade suggested or if I need a spiral blade.
 

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novice dust maker
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162 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Anybody else? Or should I just cave and do the router jig? Nah. I'll wing it until I get it fingered out.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Now I've never done this...

This is just what I do when using a scroll saw in a tight radius turn...drill a small hole in the corner like 1/8". That way you can make the turn with a minimum of stress on the blade...just keep away from the line! ;) bill
 

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novice dust maker
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162 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
:confused1:

never thought of that. lol.

sereiously. think i figured out at least a noob way last night. not quick, but it worked. i'll post pix when i get my bench done up.

thx.
 

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I tried doing dovetails with a router jig, and it was more trouble than it's worth. It's more gratifying to cut dovetails by hand anyways.
You can get a fret saw from Woodcraft for $23 BTW.
 

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There's an inbetween approach (part machine part hand) for production work to still give a hand done look, described in Taunton's "The Table Saw Book". I haven't tried it myself.
 

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novice dust maker
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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I put in a bit of coping saw practice. And with good sharp blades, it got quite a bit easier. This morning I took the leap and did my first full through dovetail joint. I'm almost happy with the results. I need to get cleaner on my chisel lines and get them sharper. Also get some sort of routine for marking better/faster.

Here's my first shot.

 

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novice dust maker
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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Scott.

I finished out the other 3 corners and made a drawer for the new workbench. Each one was better than the last. Once I crank out a few dozen more, I might be able to pass them off as real dovetails. LOL.
 

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novice dust maker
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Discussion Starter #13
Hmmm, I guess it could be done this way, but aesthetically I think the wide part of the tail being on the outside looks better. In any case, your dovetail look tight.

I agree on the the looks. It was an odd way doing it backwards. Is this a little bit better?

 
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