Through Dovetail Centrism

Beware "through dovetail centrism"! I’ve tried to steer away from 2 contentious subjects, sharpening and dovetails, because I have felt too much has been said about both. Everybody and his brother seems to have a YouTube video on 2 minute dovetails. There’s much that disturbs me about these videos. First is my puzzlement over what the point is: Are we trying to cut dovetails faster? Second, is the point to teach a strategy that makes sense or display the presenter’s prowess?

All that aside, my concern is that the techniques used in these presentations seem to be dedicated to through dovetails only (i.e. through dovetail centric). You see this when guys are to place the saw flat on the end grain. On a traditional casepiece, 3 different dovetails are used; through dts, half blinds, and sliders. Both half blinds and sliders must be started with a toe up position of the saw (at least for the pin side). I use this approach for all of my saws cuts (saw the corners out). You certainly don’t have to. But if you are interested in learning about dovetails, give a thought to the non-through variety. These are in some ways more important and often more visible.

And just so you know, my interest is in helping woodworkers tackle projects (such as case work) entirely by hand. I’ve long argued that there’s a wide range of skills and tool required for this. I think we’ve got the planes (more or less) and we know how to use them. Time to turn our collection attention to the next step in the process.