When I make a lot of half-blind dovetails, I’ll use a drill press to help bore out the waste between the pins.
The video below shows how I do. Some caveats to consider before you try to cram your boot between my buttocks via a comment below:
1. Ya, I use machines at times to reduce drudgery. Thicknessing rough stock and removing pin waste are two tasks I dislike. If I have two drawers to make, I’ll chop them out. If I have two carcases and five drawers, the drill press saves time. If this shocks you, you must be new here.
2. This is safe. I’ve heard people say you should clamp the work before every hole in times like this. I see it this way: I have an excellent control surface (the fence). The vast majority of the cutting force is down, like a band saw. And my hands are at least 6” from the bit. It’s an operation that is similar to using a powered miter saw, but safer.
3. Try it. No, no, not in your head. In your shop.
In this video I’m working in 3/4”-thick stock, so I’m using a 3/4” Forstner set to bore down 1/2” into the work. A quick puff of air between holes (good thing I’m not a smoker) blows the chips away so I can slide my work left or right.
The Forstner allows me to overlap my holes a lot. This results in an almost-flat baseline and reduces paring. I do have to do a little chopping and paring at the end, but I know this is a big time-saver when building big casework pieces. There you have it: drill press dovetails.
— Christopher Schwarz
Want a boot camp dovetail experience? Check out Chuck Bender’s “Dovetail Apprenticeship” – it’s an excellent DVD from one of the country’s best craftsmen.