Dovetails

Dovetails 2016-05-03T16:58:50+00:00

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  • #2028763

    Anthony
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    I’m not sure why I see a small gap  at the knife line of my dovetails. How could I tell if my thickness measurement was off or if I moved my knife line back when chiseling my waste?

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  • Joshua Farnsworth
    Keymaster
    Post count: 54

    Small? JK.

    Looks like you’re trimming too much. You should stick to your knife lines. Have you checked out any of the dovetail videos on this website?

  • Mike in TN
    Participant
    Post count: 261

    Hi Anthony,

    That looks like my first attempt at dovetails. There are numerous good videos out there and the techniques for good joinery, and dovetails in particular. You will get there if you are willing to study and practice. If I understand the question, you want to know if the issue with the gap at the tail and pin baselines are the result of mis-measurement or chisel technique.  My guess is that it is probably some of both along with other issues. Even with perfect “measurement”, however, imperfect technique will result in an imperfect joint. I have seen masters of the craft make world class dovetails without any “measurement” save matching one board to another and their well-trained eyes, practiced hands and time proven techniques. Dovetails were considered an everyday, basic joint by cabinetmakers of old and the only advantage they had over you and me was the techniques perfected over hundreds of years handed down directly from one craftsman to another, and the benefit of doing them day-in-day-out.

    There is nothing about fine joinery that cannot be mastered through study and practice. It would pay to round up some scraps and do one set a day for the next couple of weeks.

    Have fun.

    • Anthony
      Participant
      Post count: 3

      Hi Mike, Thanks for the reply. That was my second attempt at Dovetails. I think you’re right about my problem being a mixture of technique and measurement. It’s amazing how much info is available today. I guess I’ll keep practicing. Thanks for the vote confidence.

    • Anthony
      Participant
      Post count: 3

      Hi JK, Yes I’ve checked the Dovetail videos on this site. They are extremely helpful. The one thing I’m not clear on is where to begin chiseling the waste. Do you start at the knife line or an eight inch away. It seems like different people have different views on this.

      • Mike in TN
        Participant
        Post count: 261

        Standard practice when working to a line with a chisel is to start a little away from the line, normally about 1/16 or 1/32. If you think about a wedge being forced into wood you either have to have a place for the wood to go or you compress the wood. In a typical cross cut at the baseline the wood at the back of the chisel gets compressed a little. If you start away from the line when removing the bulk of the waste you allow for the movement of the chisel. Later light parings to clean it up can be done right to the knife line because the thin waste now has somewhere to go. Some folks shave the baseline square to the stock face and some choose to undercut it a little, from both sides toward the stock middle, to ensure there is no interference with the mating  piece. Undercutting does not significantly affect the strength of the joint.

        Have fun.

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