Dovetails

‘Houndstooth Dovetails’ – by Rob Cosman

I recently posted on our Instagram account and Twitter feed the opening image from Rob Cosman’s 2006 article “Houndstooth Dovetails,” and it proved remarkably popular – so I figured I might as well post the article. And while that “opener” certainly benefited from good lighting, and great camera and a skilled photographer (as you...

Dutch Tool Chest Dovetails

I’m pressing pause on my saw restoration for a bit because I realized that once it’s refurbished, I will have no place to put it. I have a few hand tools that I’ve accumulated over the years, but they’ve mostly been subjected to the lonely life of storage boxes…until now. I decided to build the Dutch...

Show Us Your Best Dovetail Tricks

The furniture record shows us that “perfect dovetails” is a modern mania. As the photos of antiques above prove, even some of the ugliest joints will stay together for a very long time indeed (perhaps with a nail or two for good measure). But James Krenov? He ruined us. Nowadays, we strive for cutting...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...