Step 4: Remove the tail waste
Now I grab a coping saw to cut out the waste wood. I bring the saw blade about half way down the joint, and then I start sawing in the kerf.
As I’m sawing, I slowly turn the saw inward toward the waste. I had down close to the baseline, but I’m careful to not hit the baseline. This can also be done with a chisel, but I find the coping saw method to be faster.
To cut the half pin waste off, I first set a chisel into the marking gauge line, with the bevel toward the waste.
I push down somewhat hard, or take a couple of light taps on the chisel with a mallet. Then I turn the chisel at an angle and cut out a little notch like this:
This little notch will make it easier for my hand saw to track and not cut into the shoulder:
I then use a back saw with crosscut teeth to cut off the waste piece:
If you’ve only got a dovetail saw with rip teeth, that’s alright, because the teeth are so small, so you won’t notice a big difference. And cut the waste piece off of both sides:
Now I use a chisel to clean up the tails. I make sure that the chisel is a bit narrower than the base of my tails:
I don’t cut right up to the baseline yet, otherwise It’ll push all that waste past my baseline. I try to remove about half of the waste:
And then if it’s possible, I try to remove half of the waste again. Once the remaining waste gets to be quite small, then I drop my chisel right into the marking gauge line:
I take a couple of light taps, and then I tip the chisel at a slight angle and use a wooden mallet to chop down to about half way through the board. This angled “undercut” will make a slight valley so I don’t have waste in the way when I’m fitting the joint together.
I then repeat the same process on the other side of the board. Again, I place the chisel at the half way point of the waste and I use a mallet to chop about half way through the thickness of the board. Then if I can remove half of the waste again, I’ll do so. If not, then I’ll put the chisel right in the baseline. And again, leaning the chisel at a slight angle, I chop downward to go half way into the board.
Then I use a chisel to clean out the gunk in the joint. You can see a slight valley that I created when I undercut with the chisel.
If you’ve cut further away from the pencil line than I have here, then now is a good time to use a chisel to remove the wood up to the line. Just make sure you leave your pencil line, and no more.