In Shop Blog, Techniques, Tools

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

Dovetail maestro Rob Cosman again makes us all feel inadequate with his latest video in which he cuts a half-blind dovetail joint in 6 minutes and 52 seconds.

Cosman uses Northern white pine, which you might think is cheating , he can cut the tail in one stroke. However, his pins are so skinny (just a saw kerf) that the joint is actually more difficult to do in pine because the wood is fragile.

Also worth noting: Cosman uses his new dovetail saw in this video, which I am reviewing in the April 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. It’s an interesting saw on many counts. The teeth at the toe are filed fine to make the saw easy to start. The saw has a very heavy brass back. And the handle is made from Swanstone, a synthetic solid-surface material. I can’t say much more , I don’t want to give it away.

The video above is definitely worth the watch.

– Christopher Schwarz

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts
Showing 15 comments
  • Dovetailing Pro

    David Brown, your comment earlier is unacceptable and immature, get a life and don’t bring that kind of trash to a website like this. You and your perverse wife need to grow up.

  • Steve Branam

    Regarding cutting DT based on layout, there are probably people who can do that. However, speaking here as a student (maybe up to the level of Thomas the apprentice!) and not as an expert in either knowledge or skill, the point of "copying", or transferring the marks is that hand work is subject to error. This requires cutting the next part to the "as-built" condition of the first part, not the "as-designed" condition. It compensates for whatever minor errors you make in the first part.

    That’s a common theme in hand-tool work. Cut to fit, not to layout. If you’re off a half-degree or a thirty-second in one of the dimensions of the cut, you can make up the difference in the mating part and still have it look good. You don’t want to let that get out of control, or all the little errors will add up and you’ll get a 95 degree square corner!

  • I would like to see cutting DT based on layout only, no copying
    from pins or tails; you just layout, cut each one separately
    (pins then tails, or whatever) then they should fit (no hammering

  • Steve Branam

    Nice! I particularly like the trick of using the plane as a support, solid and stable, no fidgeting to set up. I watched his 3 1/2 minute full dovetail on YouTube as well. This video is better quality, so you get to see the paring more closely.

  • Aluminum Extrusions

    I’m with @Freddy. I’d like to see some harder wood, but impressive none the less. Videos like this are always humbling for me to watch, nonetheless.

  • Jonas Jensen

    There Cris. I’m holding you responsible.. All this talk about quality hand tools, you have a strong influence.
    After seing the video, I decided that I couldn’t live without a dovetail saw. I checked the various saws from US + Canada, but there is always the extra customs and VAt + shipping etc. So instead I tried to locate one in England. I have ordered a Flinn Garlick Pax 1776 dovetail saw for 105 £ total. It better be good.

    Your magazines are great.

  • Impressive! Yet Pine is soooo soft. Lets see it in Black Cherry, Walnut, or Mahogany. Great job describing the process and great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Christopher Fitch

    So what brand of coping saw is that? Also, what type of blade is that?

  • david brown

    Am I the only one that thinks the mallet at the twelve second mark in his video looks like an . . . ummm . . . something that belongs in another sort of video?

    My wife and her friend both did a double take and said, "what the, are you serious?"

    I’m just sayin’ . . . 😉

  • Rick

    I own both of his saws and find the quality, fit, finish to be superb. I enjoyed the LN (owned one for about a year and it served me well – no complaints) but this saw goes to a whole new level (it is hard to explain). I love the weight/balance of it. Of course starting a cut is (now) ridiculously easy. I guess I’m in the minority that doesn’t baulk at the price of a very high quality handmade hand tool. We will drop $700 on a (very impersonal, space-wasting, take the fun out of it) dovetail jig made by a machine (very little labor – how much do you think it really costs to make that D4R) but squawk at a beautifully made hand saw – of course my comments are coming from someone that doesn’t make a living building furniture.
    I’m looking forward to your review Chris.

  • Tony

    i own the saw, and i’ll just say that it is very good. it’s different than other saws. It takes some adapting to get used to the weight and letting a saw do its wonders. The progressive nature of the saw is really nice – i think all manufacturers should make progressive dovetail saws. You just have to make them long enough so that you don’t need to use the fine teeth. That’s another feature of Rob’s saw.

    I’m not trying to say its better than everything out there. Its a saw, like the others, which cuts. However, it has some differences that maybe good for people learning how to cut DTs or people looking for a bit more consistency driven by the device rather than skill. I do wish the blade was taller so that i could use it on other things, but i guess that’s what the tenon saw is for, eh? Now, if people would make progressive teeth on a tenon saw…that’s the ticket! Also, that handle…it needs some softening on some edges. I like its added weight, but there is something about oiled wood handles that is soft in the hand.

    Looking forward to your April issue and, as always, your candid, unbiased reviews. It is amazing how your role as editor, coupled with your personal "fame" in the hand tools world (possibly the smallest market in the world!), has really made PWWM a great journal.

    Keep the writing coming…

  • Mark

    With all due respect to Rob Cosman’s skills, have you checked out the price of that handsaw? OUCH! Makes me appreciate Lie-Nielsen that much more!

  • Sean

    "It takes a lot of practice to be this confident."

    Using pine doesn’t hurt either. 😉

  • Chris C

    Keep in mind also that Cosman, like most very skilled dovetailers, makes
    no attempt to test fit his dovetails prior to gluing. He just goes ahead
    and glues them. It takes a lot of practice to be this confident.


  • Jonas Jensen

    That is impressive.
    I think I’ll have to try and make a special chisel like he has.
    Maybe the saw is worth buying as well. I’m looking forward to the tool review.

Start typing and press Enter to search