In Shop Blog, Techniques

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After watching Frank Klausz cut a set of dovetails in three minutes using a special bowsaw blade (see the video here in our video section), Rob Cosman decided to show that it can be done by cutting the tails first. (Frank cuts his pins first.)

For those who don’t know Cosman, he has produced a series of great videos on hand joinery and has a new companion book on dovetailing that we highly recommend. It’s spiral bound for the shop and is the best book I’ve ever read on cutting this traditional joint. You can read more about his videos, book and tools at

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 12 comments
  • Eric Madsen

    I’m equally impressed that Rob is able to explain as he goes along what he is doing… not sure I could focus on cutting and talk about it at the same time. Definitely more difficult than walking and chewing gum.

    I think anyone wishing to sell more instructional DVDs should take a page from this teaser… I’ll be buying a couple of Rob’s videos in the coming weeks.

  • Michael Dinsmore

    I guess the old adage is true, "practice, practice, practice!"

    Well done!

  • The Silent Woods Project

    WOW…that was impressive! Great job making something that is not easy look like you were sleepwalking. That killer saw you had was a big help. I’m on my way out the door right now to get one!

    Take care,
    Neil Broere
    The Silent Woods Project

  • Samson


    I didn’t mean any disrespect. All I meant to say was that it’s been my experience that the harder the wood, the more exacting you have to be to ensure a gap free fit.

    And TAILS FIRST all the way!!!

    Thanks for the great demonstration.

  • ROb Cosman

    Thought a note was needed here. Pine is easy to saw, easy to chisel but also has its own working characteristics. When you cut pins in Maple you split the knife line, do that in pine and you risk a loose fit. Pine pins need to be a little fat, just enough to compress and give you a good fit, go too far and you split the tail board. The same joint in Popular, Cherry, Walnut ect could be done in five minutes. When working on a project 10 to 12 minutes would be more realistic. Dont forget this was just for fun and a bit of entertainment. I like to keep the "tails vs pins" argument alive but I also support Frank in proving to folks that anyone can learn to cut dovetails and on a small scale it can be done faster than using a jig.

  • Samson

    Very impressive. I have to wonder about the use of pine though. Its softness is extremely forgiving. For these guys, no doubt the results would be similar in hardwood – like maple, but for the rest of us, 15 minute dovetails in hardwood might be worth the extra care.

  • Graham Hughes

    While certainly impressive, I actually find Klausz’s video more so; Cosman is visibly hurrying. Still a lot better than I can manage.

  • Tony Francis

    That guy is a legend. I ahve some of his videos and he is a really incredible teacher, highly reccomended!

  • Wilbur Pan

    And how long does it take to set up a dovetail jig and a router to do this?


  • Mike Lingenfelter

    Frank’s demonstration was amazing, and Rob’s was equally or more amazing! I saw a video awhile back where they pitted someone cutting dovetails with a router and someone cutting them by hand. The guy cutting them by hand lost big time. I’d like them to redo that challenge with one of these guys at the end of the saw :).


  • David Cockey


    I wonder how Rob’s demonstration compares to what one would have seen wondering into a 19th century shop building draws on a piecework basis? Assume 4 minutes per corner and dovetails on all four corners, it would be 16 minutes per drawer for the dovetailing or 3 3/4 drawers per hour.

    Just discovered Rob will be giving seminars at the Sterling Heights Woodcraft store on the Saturday I’ll be at Berea. Poor planning on somebodie’s part.

  • Narayan

    Amazing. I prefer Rob’s method to Mr. Klausz’s, but if I had a big bowsaw and several decades of experience, maybe I’d think differently.

    In under four minutes both of them can cut dovetails that look better than the ones on which I spend the better part of an hour. Practice indeed.

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