My New Favorite Tool for Good Dovetails

It’s Sunday, and I’m in the shop pursuing enlightment through dovetailing as I work on the drawers for my coffee table. While dovetail Nirvana it still some steps away, I’ve finally achieved at least some Right Understanding. That is, to get the job done correctly, you must use the right tools. Guess which one in the picture above was missing before today.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

20 thoughts on “My New Favorite Tool for Good Dovetails

  1. Ed Furlong

    Megan:

    Guessed the glasses before I read your post. Fixed power reading glasses may be just the thing–I have prescription gradient “bifocals” and find that in the shop I suffer from BHS (Bobble Head Syndrome) trying to find the sweet spot.

    A pair of drugstore reading glasses are probably the least expensive tool you have for cutting those dovetails!

  2. tyvekboy

    Megan,
    I think you’re missing a chisel to remove waste. Also could use a coping saw but I think the chisel is all that’s missing.

    1. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Yeah, yeah. I didn’t say that was _all_ my tools for cutting DT joints 😉

      And maybe, just maybe, I gnaw them out with my teeth.

  3. Megan FitzpatrickMegan Fitzpatrick Post author

    I should have had my can of Diet Coke and my iPod in the picture. I truly can’t work without either of those. The answer, however, is the reading glasses. Like so many of us over a certain age, my eyes can no longer adjust from far to near in my regular glasses, so until now, I’ve been titling my head up or down to look either under or over my glasses while sawing. I can see the lines just fine without my glasses, but the angle was throwing me off my lines from time to time. I suppose I could have simply removed my regular glasses while sawing, but things are a little crisper with the reading pair. I guess I need to get some high-strength polycarbonate, shatterproof “shop” glasses…

    1. cbf123

      My optometrist thinks that the polycarbonate lenses don’t give quite as good an image as regular lenses because it’s a softer material.

      If you’re going to go polycarbonate, get actual prescription safety glasses. Otherwise you may as well just wear normal glasses with safety googles over top when necessary.

  4. thomaswhoyt

    along with that recently acquired membership in AARP… I would guess that you got a great coupon for the eye exam & spectacles. Did I win the prize?

  5. jkacerosky

    Megan,

    I believe it is the twin screw vise and the added height that it brings to the sawing. Correct position is right up there with being able to see and we have seen you with the glasses before!

    John

  6. tiltdeck

    There are no chisels present. The tool at the end of the bench looks like a screw driver from the handle. You don’t cut dovetails without a chisel of some sort.

  7. Phred

    I’m gonna guess the twin screw vise. I figure you already had the glasses, and the other items all appear to have had some use.

  8. Clay

    My first set of progressive lenses and good lighting have been a big part of improving my dovetails. Makes the money spent on good hand tools look a bit more reasonable.

  9. Brentpmed

    Megan,
    I don’t know about your current tool arsenal, but if you are anything like me, the most important thing on your dovetail bench are the glasses. I strike my lines with a knife, and particularly in the end grain I cannot accurately position my saw without the improved vision. The amount I have to pare from my pins has decreased significantly since I added the eyeware.

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