Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hand Cut Dove tails, take 1

Dovetails are a classic joint and are incredibly strong. A lot of times they can be found on drawers but are also used in some boxes. A dovetail joint can also be used as a design element. There are two major types of dovetails: through and half blind. Since dovetails are such a historic type of joint I felt like I need to learn to hand cut dovetails. Dovetails can be cut with a router and there are a lot of dovetail gig and bits available to make them. But for me learning to cut them by hand is where I want to start. I have watched a few videos on how to cut dovetails and read some article also, so I thought it was time to give it a try.

I bought a 1/2" thick poplar board that was 5.5" wide and 4' long. I thought this would be good stock to practice on and if there is any left it can be used to make the treasure chest I mentioned in my last post. I also bought a back saw and a coping saw. Both saws were Kobalt brand from Lowes. I know these may not be the best but just starting out I thought they would work, plus there isn't a woodworking store anywhere within a hour of driving.

First I lay out the tails (which are where the name dovetail comes from since the tails look like a birds tail). I made the layout lines with a knife and then went of the lines with a pencil thinking it would make the knife line easier to see. I think that by making the pencil makes I may have lead myself astray because it was hard to see the knife line and was easier to follow my messy pencil line when sawing.

I don't have a real wood working workbench with a vices so here is how I work on the piece. The work piece is clamped to a crude fence that I made in a attempt to re-saw with my band saw and then the fence is clamped to my work surface. The work surface is a piece of particle board sitting on 2 saw horses.
After I cut the tails I traced the tail locations onto the other piece to make the pins. I didn't have a good way to hold the pieces together while doing this which i think was a major source of error, not to mention my inability to saw where I needed to. The joint did go together with a little persuasion, but doesn't fit together nicely. But I did succeed in making a set of hand cut dovetails.

Overall it was a fun experience and I think I learned a lot doing it. I learned I need to practice sawing straight and along a line. I also learned my chisels need more sharpening and I need a real solid workbench.

No comments:

Post a Comment