PWM Workshop: Dovetail How-to, Tips & Tricks

Early in December (the 4th and 5th, to be exact), Popular Woodworking Magazine opens its shop in Cincinnati for another class workshop and DVD session. “Build a Saw Bench with Chris Schwarz” (pre-order the DVD here)
kicked off the sessions; this time we’ll offer a weekend class to
explore dovetail joinery with me, Glen D. Huey. Learn how to produce
dovetails by hand and learn the many dovetail tips and tricks that I’ve
worked decades to discover. During the weekend, after you get a practice
round or two under your belt, you’ll build the Keepsake
Box pictured above – which makes a great holiday gift.

Because I am the power-tool connection
at Popular Woodworking Magazine, other woodworkers are sometimes amazed
to hear that I do work with hand tools – it’s like we have to choose
worlds when we all should be stepping in both. For me, dovetails are
made with hand tools. I’ve been cutting dovetails by hand for years and I
clearly remember the day I switched off the power.

To this day, I
can see the look in my customer’s eyes as he studied the machine-cut
dovetails on a cupboard I delivered to his home. At the time, not only
did I use a router and dovetail jig to create the joint, I made
through-dovetails in 1/2″ material then added a thin drawer front; from
a distance, it looked like half-blind dovetails. It was that customer’s
reaction, along with dovetail jig fingers that refused to stay where
positioned, that altered my dovetail path forever.

Throughout the
years, I’ve developed the chops to create hand-cut dovetails with the
best of them, and I’ve discovered a few tricks and shortcuts to increase
my productivity. Leaning more toward the power-tool side of
woodworking, my dovetails are hand-cut…but sometimes there is a bit of
power tool spice added to the mix. That’s what this class and DVD are
about – understanding dovetails and how to create solid joinery using
hand tools, as well as finding out how power tools can be of assistance.

Here’s
an opportunity to participate in a class to learn the intricacies of
dovetails, to get one-on-one instruction and be part of a DVD that
millions will see. (OK, millions might be pushing things a bit!)
However, I can guarantee that you’ll walk away with a great-looking
Keepsake Box and a full understanding of hand-cut dovetails.
Additionally, you’ll learn more than a few tricks to make dovetails
easier and you’ll pick up scads of tips so your dovetails will be
accurate, tight and professional in appearance. Click here to sign up, or if you have any questions, please contact me. If you need more information, below are the specifics.

Cut Dovetails for Speed, Strength and Accuracy
(and get a head-start on your holiday gifts)
with Glen D. Huey, senior editor, Popular Woodworking Magazine

9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 & Sunday, Dec. 5 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Popular Woodworking Magazine Shop

$250 plus $45 materials fee

Hand-cut
dovetails are the benchmark of well-made furniture. But cutting
dovetails by hand can be time-consuming – unless you know the shortcuts
and when to use them. That’s what you’ll learn during two days with the
help of Popular Woodworking Magazine‘s Senior Editor Glen D. Huey, who
has been making and selling fine 18th-century furniture for almost three
decades.

This two-day class is a intense study of
dovetails, and how to use a different mindset and techniques for joints
for strength or for show. It is a class that is unlike any we’ve seen
offered before. During the class you’ll build a Keepsake Box in your
choice of cherry or walnut under Glen’s guidance. You’ll learn the
history of the joint and how it changed along with furniture styles,
and how to design a dovetail joint to maximize its strength and beauty.
Additionally, you’ll learn the basic techniques to lay out, cut and fit
hand-cut dovetails. Then you’re off to create your own practice set of
pins and tails.

As you work through a practice set,
you’ll learn tricks to smooth the process and increase your speed, such
as a band-saw jig that guarantees each pin is cut at a proper angle.
You’ll also discover how to use a jigsaw to cut structural dovetails
(when the pins and tails being covered by mouldings). Then the work
begins on your Keepsake Box.

Through-dovetails are not
the only joinery used on your project. The back of the box is joined to
the sides with half-blind dovetails – the process is a bit different and
you’ll learn additional techniques to guarantee tight-fitting joints.

Once
your Keepsake Box is complete, you have the opportunity to repeat the
entire process again – this time on the bracket-style base for the box.
If you choose to, you’ll cut through-dovetails on the bracket feet to
add to your project. Plus, Glen will show you how to make store-bought
hinges look 200 years old, using a simple and safe process.

Tool List:
Dovetail Saw
Chisel
Mallet
Small Square
Dovetail Layout Gauge
Marking or Cutting Gauge
Pencil

It’s
always best to work with your own tools, but if these tools are not in
your shop cupboard don’t worry. We’ll have more than a few mallets, saws
and chisels to put you to work. We’ll also have all the stock prepped
and the necessary hardware.

The class is limited to
10 students* and runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 &
Sunday, Dec. 5 in the Popular Woodworking Magazine shop. During the
class, we’ll be filming a video on cutting through- and half-blind
dovetails, and each class member will receive a copy after the DVD is
finished. We’ll provide pastries and coffee for breakfast, as well as
lunch on both days. On Saturday night, we’ll make dinner reservations at
a nearby restaurant for all who are interested in continuing the talk
on dovetails and woodworking in general.

After
registering, please send an e-mail to Megan Fitzpatrick
(megan.fitzpatrick@fwmedia.com) and let her know which wood species you
prefer to work with: cherry or walnut.

Our shop is located
at 4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45236, and there are
several hotel options within a few miles. (Megan can also answer any
questions about lodging, or the class in general).

* Students under the age of 18 are welcome, provided a parent or legal guardian signs a release form.

Now I know you’re ready to sign up! Click here.

— Glen D. Huey

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About Glen D. Huey

Glen Huey is editor of American Woodworker Magazine, and former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He's an accomplished period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books and videos (as well as magazine articles).

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