View Poll Results: Are you a pins first or a tails first maker?

Voters
49. You may not vote on this poll
  • Pins first

    9 18.37%
  • Tails first

    21 42.86%
  • I'm so good at dovetails that I use both at random

    0 0%
  • I use my router jig so I don't care

    19 38.78%
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Thread: Dovetails, pins first-tails first complete different techniques.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Catalunya
    Posts
    4,632

    Dovetails, pins first-tails first complete different techniques.

    Hi there.

    As you know each day before working on whatever project I’m working on I cut a set of dovetails to keep on practising and improving my technique.
    I take it as some sort of warming up exercise and honestly, I doesn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes and it pays off.

    A couple of weeks ago as I want to master all techniques I started making two sets instead of one, one cutting tails first and the other pins first.

    What was my surprise when I found that they are completely different techniques.
    If I use the pins first technique with the saw settings or distances from the lines that I use on the tails first the joint becomes too tight, up to the point of splitting the wood.
    I’ve found that I need to split the line, then I get a perfect joint, better and more consistent in result than with the tails first technique.

    On the other hand, if I use the pins first distances on the tails first technique the joint becomes too loose and the joint lines are too evident.

    Before finding this I thought that there wouldn’t be any differences and that it was a matter or personal preference using one system or the other.

    Has any of you found the same or is it that my sawing technique is poor? Now I have to decide for one of them because switching from one to the other will lead to errors for sure.

    Las but not least, I hope to have explained myself properly and by no means would I want this post to be the beginning of an endless debate between pins first or tails first.

    Just for my info feel free to vote on the poll
    Last edited by Toni Ciuraneta; 08-12-2009 at 08:00 AM.
    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
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
    Posts
    15,807
    I like to do tails first, I find I can design the dovetails to fit the piece of wood better by doing tails first, I've only ever seen one person cut dovetails in person, me, so who knows, I might be all wet about this
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,604
    I really really admire those with the talent and patience for delicate hand work. Unfortunately I don't have a ton of either. So I use my good old Rockler dovetail jig.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,529
    I two find that I get better fit by doing the pins first. Now mortice and tenions that another debate. I won't go there.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Posts
    9,076
    I do tails first as I find it easier to hold the tails against the end of the "pin" board to mark it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails tails-and-pins.jpg  
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 08-12-2009 at 05:10 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    405
    I used to do pins first, but found it easier to do tails first. I'll explain, when I cut the pins first my sawing for the tails must match an angle on the verticle plane. When I cut the tails first, there can be slight differences on the verticle plane without any problem, since the pins are cut to match. The pin angle is with the saw verticle, but rotated on the horizontal plane, which is much easier to handle for me. I'm sure it reflects a lack in sawing skills, but it is really much easier to produce decent results.

    For what it's worth.
    Lee Laird
    Austin TX

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,529
    I may have to change my vote in a few days since loml got me a dovetail jig for my birthday..
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Posts
    9,076
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Baer View Post
    I may have to change my vote in a few days since loml got me a dovetail jig for my birthday..
    You got me . Coffee on my monitor .
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Central NY State
    Posts
    3,374
    I learned from Tage Frid's books. Pins first. Once I tried tails first, though, I have come to prefer it. When making a box, I'll tape the sides together, and cut both sets of tails at once. This saves time, gives me a wider platform to saw on, and provides better matching of the tail placement and size. Toni, your observations are very interesting.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Thomasville, GA
    Posts
    5,994
    I use my Incra jig. So far, I've only done half-blind dovetails and they're a snap on my Incra.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

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