How many saws does it take to cut giant dovetails? In my case, three. Sure, those of you with mad saw skills might simply whip out the panel saw and go at it. But I’m not that brave.
Instead, I started with my wee Gramercy dovetail saw, which has a usable cutting depth of less than 1-1/4″ at the toe. Frankly, it looks more than a bit ridiculous atop this honkin’ big chunk of wood. But, the thin sawplate (.018″) and the many sharp teeth (it’s 19ppi) allowed me to track my lines with ease as I started each of these critical cuts. And I’m pretty pleased with my work up at the top of the tail; the cuts don’t look half bad (the true test will come this weekend, though, as I try to fit things).
Then, I switched to Chris’s vintage Garlick & Sons sash saw (at least I’m pretty sure it’s technically a sash saw), and tracked the vertical line at a sharp angle, using my small kerf across the top to help guide the cut. And I came dangerously close to cutting into Chris’s vise chop a couple times (awfully glad I noticed before it was too late!). Once I reached my baseline, I switched to a perpendicular cut and cut down as far as the saw could go before the spine stopped me cold (3″ at the toe).
That meant it was time for the scary saw…¦the panel saw…¦with no back to help keep me on the straight and narrow. Chris has a plethora of panel saws from which to choose, but like a magpie, I went for his shiny new one, the Lie-Nielsen 12ppi (he has an 8ppi one, too, but I’m not that aggressive , at least not when it comes to sawing). This marks my first time as a panel-saw user, and my fears were a bit overblown (of course, it helps that I already had a 3″-deep kerf to follow).
The only “problem” I ran into is that with each saw, the plate got a little thicker, so I was perhaps working a little harder than I had to. But that’s a good thing, really. By the time I got down to the bottom of each cut, I was so tired that I couldn’t possibly make an unnecessary saw stroke. This is, I think, the first time ever I’ve not overcut my dovetail baselines.
– If you want some real sawing instruction from an expert, check out Chris’s new DVD from Lie-Nielsen: “Sawing Fundamentals.” It’s available now through our Woodworker’s BookShop. (All of Chris’s earnings will be donated to White Water Shaker Village; you can read more about this Ohio Shaker community here.)
– I just got notice that our first-ever poster is in the store and available for pre-order (it should ship to buyers next week). And what, you may ask, would we put on a poster? Why, Plate 11 from AndrÃ?Â© Roubo’s “L’Art du Menuisier,” of course! (The plate that shows the bench we’ve built in several iterations , including the one above.) It’s 18″x24″ on heavy cream stock, suitable for framing. So after my bench is done, I guess I know what I’m building!