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Thread: Dovetail doctor

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Inside the Beltway
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    Dovetail doctor

    Hey, folks,

    I'm one of those people who has never successfully cut a dovetail by hand. So I was interested to see this video from finewoodworking:

    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki....aspx?id=31582

    The teacher keeps telling the student to slow down. Maybe that's my problem?

    Thanks,

    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Shorewood, WI
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    97
    The other repeated bit of advice was to make sure to orient your work so you can see what it's important to see for that operation. In this it was seeing that your chisel is square to the work, but it's something to keep in mind for many operations.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Lantry View Post
    Hey, folks,

    I'm one of those people who has never successfully cut a dovetail by hand. So I was interested to see this video from finewoodworking:

    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki....aspx?id=31582

    The teacher keeps telling the student to slow down. Maybe that's my problem?

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Haven't seen the video nor watched you cut Dovetails but I can say from experience "Slow Down" Biggest problem with cutting them is the haste that the saw operator seems to display. Slow, precise cuts and paying close attention to the placement of the saw. Look closely at the placement of the saw, Exactly where you want to cut and then back stroke to begin a kerf so when you cut in the saw's cutting direction you will stay on tract.

    Another key (seldom considered) is your positioning over the work. That is the placement of you, your elbow and shoulder as well as your line of sight. They need to be in a comfortable position where all the hinged parts of your body are in a straight line and along your line of sight. If you are reaching across your chest to get to the sawing position you will pull it to the right, every time. (if you are right handed) if you are reaching out then you will pull left and miss the mark. Your line of sight has to be dead on or you will tilt the saw toward your sight line, that is why you have to be directly over the saw when you look.

    These are things the book doesn't tell you, Pay attention to the minor details is the secret to fine dovetails. Some fine WWers are doing this w/o thinking and most don't realize that they are positioning themselves in this manner, just seems to come natural to some folks. I have watched students who are struggling and see that they are so far out of position they are fighting with the tool rather than using the tool.

    Try a scrap piece of wood . I see fellows who bend over the work and position themselves so that when they draw the saw, their elbow moves out to the side (you do not have comfort or control with lateral motion in your elbow or shoulder and therefore each stroke is different and thus the saw line wanders_ Place yourself in a position where the arm/shoulder is in a natural line, this may require that you reposition the piece, perhaps your bench is too low, this can cause you to be out of place when you saw.

    I used to work with my students to get them to think about their posture while sawing (hand saw or back saw or dovetail saw, or coping saw for that matter) Your posture cotrol you muscle and joint movement, remember the saw is doing the cutting and you are providing the motion. If you can't control the motion the the saw will cut as it may.

    I believe we all have the knowledge and skill to do fine dovetails if we concentrate on the procedures and practices and think about the kinetics that go into the procedures...

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