I’m think I’m a decent dovetailer. My joints are tight and I get things done. Heck, I can even teach dovetailing to others when pressed.
So why don’t I post a video of how quickly I can cut a dovetail joint? Because we’d likely run out of videotape.
Truth is, I think I’m a bit slow. When I was a wee lad my parents took me to a doctor because they thought I was, ahem, mentally challenged. Praise Jebus that I beat that rap. But yet, I admit I am still a bit slow with some things.
When I build a drawer for a piece of casework, it takes me about two hours. That includes dimensioning the stock, planing it flat, plowing the groove for the bottom and dovetailing all the corners.
Is this too slow? Should I reserve a spot on the short bus of dovetailers? Truth is, I don’t care. I love cutting dovetails so much that even if it took four hours I wouldn’t buy a dovetailing jig. I enjoy the process of building things with this joint because it’s straightforward, mechanical and a bit physical.
So you are probably wondering if I’ve knit a little cozy for my marking gauge. Or if I pare every joint to perfection using feeler gauges as a guide.
Neither is the case. I work with joints where the walls are cut with the saw and the floors are bashed out with a chisel. I don’t find myself tweaking every surface with a chisel or a paring guide. So I cut my dovetails like the big boys, I just do it at my own pace.
Perhaps I should be ashamed. I cut my first dovetails in 1993 , that’s 17 years ago. I should be better, right?
– Christopher Schwarz
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