Dovetails

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If You Haven’t Tried Full-blind Dovetails, It’s Time

  When beginning woodworkers rank the difficulty of the different dovetail joints, they usually think of the through-dovetail as the “bunny slope.” The half-blind dovetail is the “expert slope” – perhaps a blue or a black trail if you are a snow skier. So what’s the full-blind dovetail? Or the secret-mitered dovetail? Throwing yourself...

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Read Your Own Blog, Dummy

The alway-eagle-eyed Jeff Burks pointed out that I had already found an earlier reference to using a bow saw to saw out dovetail waste to the one I posted this morning. Back in 2010, I mentioned that Charles Holtzapffel explains the technique in “Turning and Mechanical Manipulation…” (1856). Holtzapffel writes: The wood between the...

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Sawing Out Dovetail Waste

When I teach dovetailing to a class, one of the common questions is why I saw out the majority of the waste between the tails and pins, instead of chopping with a chisel. The simple answer is: That’s how I learned to do it, I’m fast at it and coping saws are easier to...

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Defective Dovetail Diagnosis

When I teach woodworking, most of my job is diagnosing defective dovetails. Tail walls that are not 90°. Floors of pin and tail boards that have lumps aplenty. My diagnosis tools are my sensitive fingers, a small square and my eyes. But in some situations, all of those tools fail. When cutting dovetails with...

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Dovetails of 472 Flavors

If you think there are hard-and-fast rules about designing dovetails, don’t read any further. You’ll get an ulcer. North Carolina woodworker Mark Firley has collected a set of 472 photos of dovetails on antiques that he has collected in his travels all over the United States. Sift through this set, and you can find...

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Dovetail Layout: What Ratio or Degree?

I’ve looked at, photographed and cut many dovetails throughout my days as a woodworker, book author and magazine editor. I’ve written on this blog at least once in the past that the angle used for dovetail layout is in no way consistent in antique furniture construction – you can find almost any slope or...

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Sweating the Details

When I talk to woodworkers about drawers, particularly dovetail joinery, I mention the transition that occurs as we moved from one furniture period to the next. In general, dovetails became a drawer-joinery method during the William & Mary period; woodworkers had used dovetails earlier, but they became more widely used during the period that...

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A Top 10 Woodworking Jig

Years ago, I stumbled upon this woodworking jig. Years since, it still ranks high in usage when I’m working on a large number of dovetails (but I generally teach and make hand-cut dovetails). It’s a simple-to-build jig – as are most of the jigs we use here at the magazine and those published in...

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A Quick Tip for Half-blind Dovetails

It’s Sunday, and I’m at work to process lumber so that I can get started on a project that involves 44 half-blind dovetails for the October issue of the magazine. And it’s possible that on Saturday night I had one-too many adult libations (or I perhaps just didn’t sleep long enough…or both); I’m feeling...