Whenever I stink at something in woodworking, it becomes my lunch-hour obsession. While chomping an apple, I’ll read everything I can about the topic. Then I’ll steal off to the shop to practice what I’ve read.
This is how I learned to saw, to sharpen, to cut moulding by hand, clean my ears, mortising and so on.
And it’s definitely how I became a decent dovetailer. I wrote about this experience in our February 2007 issue in an article titled “A Dovetail a Day.” I like the article (you can download it below), but I never thought anyone would actually take up my challenge.
Reader Bob Jones of Tennessee just finished a series of 29 dovetails that he cut over about 90 days. He used aspen and poplar for the first 25. And he decided to do the last four while making a dovetailed walnut box for his auger bits.
Did the “Dovetail a Day” program work? You be the judge. Jones took a photo of dovetail No. 1, all of his intermediate joints and the final result.
Here’s the happy end to the story: He won’t be able to use the box in his shop. Why?
“My wife wants it inside,” Jones writes. “Not a bad result.”
So the message here is: practice, practice, practice. Even if you have 20 minutes to spare in your day, you can use it to become a better woodworker.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go work on my SketchUp skills. After eight hours of drafting my latest project, I realized that I have to scrap the whole thing and start again.
— Christopher Schwarz
Resources on Dovetails
• In October 2005 we published Frank Klausz’s “Final Word on Dovetails.” It’s a great article. Look it up in your back issues or buy that digital issue here. Or just buy the 2000 to 2007 CD. It’s a good resource I use every day.
• If your dovetails are hopeless, try this.
• Download “A Dovetail a Day” for free: DovetailaDay