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Thread: Hand cut dovetails exercises

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Hand cut dovetails exercises

    Hi guys, I do not know how many of you are good at hand cutting dovetails, but I'm not among you (yet)

    I've been practising cutting dovetails almost every day from the begining of the month, and the results are being quite erratic not to say random. What you see here are the remaining trials, some other were too bad to be shown so I threw them away in desperation.

    From absolutely loose ones, to too tigh others passing through all sorts of precision.

    The problem is that when I think I'm getting the knack of it and I make a couple that seem acceptable, the next one is like making five steps backwards. What you see here are some of the trials, at the beggining I put the date on them so I could see the evolution, on some others I was so frustrated I didn't put anything.

    I need to get them right for my seven drawer dresser, or it will look awful.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails foto01.jpg   foto12.jpg   foto13.jpg   foto14.jpg   foto16.jpg  

    foto20.jpg   foto21.jpg   foto22.jpg   foto23.jpg   foto24.jpg  

    Last edited by Toni Ciuraneta; 03-28-2009 at 09:47 PM.
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  2. #2
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    I haven't done any, so you're already way ahead of me, Toni. Some of your look perfect, so you know you have it in you. As you do more, the consistency will come. And once you have the process figured out, I suspect your dovetail joints will be picture perfect.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
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    Dec 2007
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    Billings Missouri near Springfield Mo
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    Man Toni any of those are better than I could do
    Jay

  4. #4
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    Here are pictures of my first two hand dovetails. I was going to be taking a class in hand tool joints and I figured that I might as well give it a try before the class. That is the one in pine. The other (Spanish Cedar) was done at the class. I have kept them to remind me not be afraid to try anything. I had put off trying to do it because I thought it was beyond me without some instruction. It taught me the best instruction some times is to just try. The are joints are starting to shrink; I should have glued them, but enjoy taking them apart and putting back together.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    My experience is that you need to be a good with the saw to make good dovetails. I normally cut tails first, so when I cut them I saw down the middle of the line. When I cut the pins I then leave the line. The consistency comes in just leaving the line the same amount each time.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post

    I normally cut tails first, so when I cut them I saw down the middle of the line. When I cut the pins I then leave the line. The consistency comes in just leaving the line the same amount each time.
    Hi Bill, thanks for the info, I also make tails first. So the trick is to split the line on the tails and leave the line on the pins. I'll try it today Thanks!
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Toni, whichever you cut first pins or tails- doesn't matter if you touch the line or split it - it's the second parts you make that have to be accurate to your mark.

    I learned to cut pins first, but lately have been preferring tails first. Except of course with half-blinds, where pins must be done first.

    Ken

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    outside of Toronto, Ont
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    Good luck in the dovetails. I haven't tried them myself yet.
    A freind did some using reclaimed wood. After he had them all cut and fitting nice and tight, he decided to sttrip the paint off before doing the final assembly. He sure was surprised at how thick the paint was because he was left with loose joints.

    I see that you have updated your avatar. From your postings, I had assumed that the original photo was somewat outdated.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    GTA Ontario Canada
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    Hi Toni

    Some of those dovetails look near perfect to me. I still have huge gaps. I am very luck two gentlemen that visited my home recently were polite in keeping quiet about the gaps in my joints on a certain medal cabinet.

    As for tricks and tips, I have also heard and tried to narrow the line down by not using pencil but a marking knife. Also marking out the send half of the joint from the first piece cut which ever side you choose.

    I rember at school we cheated somewhat by cutting oversize and fitting through filing down the sides while fitting. Downside was we ended up drifting to one side or the other and had overlapping wood at the edge.

    I appreciate your desire to hand cut the dovetails but I bought a PC dovetailer and router to do this in future.

    Best of luck you seem pretty close with yours. How perfect do you want to get?
    cheers

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    Hi Toni

    Best of luck you seem pretty close with yours. How perfect do you want to get?
    Thanks Rob, and to answer your question, as much perfect as I could and as fast as I could.

    So far some of the ones I'm getting I would classify them as satisfactory or "fair" and many others from "fail" to "disaster". It seems that I'm more consistent in getting them wrong than right
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Odessa, Tx
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    1,813
    I'm sure not the one to give advice on hand cut dovetails Toni, but hey, you just finished a BEAUTIFUL Dovetail and it flew all the way to the USA, so What's the Problem? Remember now, THINK "Dovetail", and just remove everything that don't look like a Dovetail.

    Seriously, since your carving skills are fantastic, maybe the method of cutting the pins first and then after cutting the tails, just "Pare" the tails gently to fit. Note: This isn't MY idea, I saw it in an article in a WW magazine on how to make "Perfect" Dovetails, and as he "pared" then with a chisel, he left each of the face edges tight to the pins and relieved the middle of the tails just a little to make it easier for them to slip together.

    I've got Confidence in you though and I know you will get it figured out whichever way you go.

    (I "think" I remember that he cut the Tails "Tight" enough that they wouldn't quite fit before paring).
    Last edited by Norman Hitt; 03-31-2009 at 08:11 PM.

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