Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Dovetails are driving me NUTS!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Posts
    940

    Dovetails are driving me NUTS!

    Hi folks,
    I'm getting close on my project. One more leg to laminate and bend. Box is done and I've just got to build the drawer. I've got all the pieces cut, but I'm still trying to get the dovetail jig adjusted to cut the half-blind dovetails for the drawer. I got the left side set up and in pretty good shape, then I went to the right side. Had a heck of a time with that but got it pretty good and I decided to do one more test cut on the left side to be sure. It's not fitting right again! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

    It's late and I've been in the shop too long, I'm hanging it up for the night. Hopefully a decent night's sleep and things will go well tomorrow. Once the jig is set up, the hard part is done and it will be a simple matter to build the drawer.

    I borrowed a Rockler Dovetail jig from my neighbor and it seems to be a pretty nice piece of equipment, but this is my first time ever trying to cut a dovetail so I guess I've got to work my way through the learning curve. I'll report once I've figured it out.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,604
    Ken, It is a bit tough to set up. The Rockler directions leave a bit to be desired. You can download the Harbor Freight directions and they are a bit clearer. The jig is similar. Seems to me I had to make a 5/16" spacer for the half blind dovetails. I'll take a look at it today.
    Once it's set up it works great though.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Posts
    940
    I think that the setup is the hard part. And being my first time, that's what is taking so long. I've got to learn what effect each minor adjustment has. I've got it pretty close, but just have to get it dialed in. I love the look of a dovetailed drawer! I want to get a Kreg setup to for doing pocket screw joinery. I'm enjoying this so much that I'm already starting to think about making new cabinets for the kitchen some day. Right now money is way too tight, but eventually I'd like to do that.

    Woodworking has really been therapeutic for me. I've got some health issues that are making it increasingly difficult to work in the trades in the field. But if I had a substantial shop in my basement, I could produce product down there. At this point I probably won't be able to rely fully on woodworking, but it might help bring in a couple extra bucks between jobs.

    Thanks for the tip on the HF directions, I think I'll try that. I'm still trying to figure out what some of the adjustments do. The Rockler directions have a saying "Heighten to tighten, lower to loosen". I'm sure they're referring to the cut depth of the bit. I just have to figure out what they're talking about. To "heighten" would mean to RAISE the bit to me, but that would lower the depth of the cut. LOL I'll figure it out eventually.
    Last edited by John Pollman; 01-03-2013 at 01:11 PM.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Posts
    940
    I think that I've figured it out!

    I spent a ton of time in the shop last night feeling like I was chasing my tail. But in the light of day this morning, I think I've discovered the problem. I noticed that there's a tiny bit of play in the fence before I lock down the cam on the top section that holds the drawer front. I think that's the reason for the slight discrepancy with the joints. It can be off just a tiny bit and I'll make a very fine adjustment and it's off the other way. It's not much play, but if I account for it and make sure that the fence is in the proper position before I flip the lever to lock the piece into position, I should be OK. I want to give it a try, but my son is still sleeping and trying to enjoy the last couple days of his Christmas vacation. Once he's up, I'll fire up the router and give it a try. If it works, I'll build the drawer. Then laminate the second leg and I can do final assembly tomorrow and it will be ready for finishing!
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Posts
    5,320
    Depth of cut is critical, John. Even 1/64" change in depth of cut will make a noticeable difference in the fit. Getting it right can be really frustrating - and you have to go through this every time you want to make dovetails! (unless you have enough routers to be able to leave one permanently set up -like a couple folks here do...)
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Posts
    940
    Yeah the depth of cut is a big deal. I've got the Rockler dovetail jig, but I've also got a jig for the fence set up and it has a depth guide on it too. That made things a little easier. I'm about to head back down to the shop and give it a go. I've got all of the drawer pieces cut and laid out, I just need to finish getting the jig dialed in and I can get the drawer built. It looks to me that when building dovetail drawers, more work goes into the setup than the actual fabrication of the drawer.
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,008
    Once you get it all dialed in, make a test piece and label it for future reference. Then the next time you need to cut dovetails on wood that's the same thickness, you can use the sample as a setup block.
    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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Escondido, CA
    Posts
    5,169
    Maybe I can help.

    Depth of cut by the bit is THE big deal. Getting it the first time can be a bear, but once you do, don't bother with a test block. Use a micrometer and measure the exposure of the bit to the thousandth and write it down. The next time simply set the depth of cut to the exact same depth of cut as worked before. At worst, your may need one tiny adjustment.

    Hints. Use the same dove tail bit each time. Or you will be tweaking things the next time again. They are not expensive. A test block locks you into wood the very same thickness. That doesn't happen often! And the darned test piece goes wherever lost socks go when you need it next. The issue isn't the thickness of the wood. It is the depth of cut.

    Think of the bit, the router base, and the jig as a marriage. Use the exact set-up equipment-wise each time and bliss will be yours.

    Decimal reading dial micrometers are less than $20 at HF - essential for this task. I use the 4" model.

    One other thought. I don't try to cut two corners at one time. This is one of those 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should.' Also, just because the maker says it is possible, doesn't mean it is wise. I put spacers in the other end of the template so I don't bend the template. I just find it too difficult for my short attention span to get two corners into the jig perfectly at one time. Maybe that's why the instructions are so vague.....
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bellingham
    Posts
    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by John Pollman View Post
    It looks to me that when building dovetail drawers, more work goes into the setup than the actual fabrication of the drawer.
    John, you just need to get rid of that jig and do it the fast way.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2012-08-04_16-09-43_187.jpg 
Views:	23 
Size:	61.0 KB 
ID:	72880Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2012-08-04_16-10-19_42.jpg 
Views:	25 
Size:	45.4 KB 
ID:	72882Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2012-08-04_16-09-51_710.jpg 
Views:	24 
Size:	37.7 KB 
ID:	72881
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    new york city burbs
    Posts
    10,188
    now thats funny.
    Human Test Dummy

Similar Threads

  1. Geronimo Driving a Car
    By Vaughn McMillan in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-29-2011, 07:15 PM
  2. Some amazing driving
    By Don Baer in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 09-19-2010, 08:42 AM
  3. driving near 33rd st
    By allen levine in forum New Tools
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: 08-27-2010, 02:25 AM
  4. Driving in the snow
    By Dave Hawksford in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 02-05-2010, 12:43 AM
  5. free driving?
    By Frank Fusco in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 07-07-2008, 01:54 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •