View Poll Results: How awesome are your handcut dovetails.

Voters
38. You may not vote on this poll
  • Achieve flawless mastery every time

    0 0%
  • Manage to get them to come out sometimes

    10 26.32%
  • Managed to make a perfect set once, never repeated

    3 7.89%
  • They look ok after shims and gap filling

    6 15.79%
  • Well at least they're sturdy

    3 7.89%
  • An angry beaver appears to have attacked my work

    2 5.26%
  • This is something I'd like to attempt someday

    8 21.05%
  • Doing this appears to be a new level of insanity, not for me

    6 15.79%
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Thread: Mastery of hand cut dovetails

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    4,698

    Mastery of hand cut dovetails

    I've been playing with more hand cutting dovetails. Taking the "do one set per day and twice on Saturday" approach and they're starting to look like something resembling dovetails, although I've been sticking with the plain through dovetails for now (planning to move to blind/half blind and mitred once these start to look better).

    Was curious how many other folks have gone down this route or decided not to

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Thomasville, GA
    Posts
    5,987
    It's simple: I'm a power tool junkie and proud of it! I use dovetails when there's a good reason to use them for esthetics, otherwise my furniture is plenty sturdy without them.
    Last edited by Bill Arnold; 11-19-2015 at 03:54 PM. Reason: sp.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,600
    Power tool junkie here as well.

    I have tries several hand cut dovetails. Saying that they look OK after lots of shims and wood filler is a bit of an exaggeration.

    Bottom line is I don't really have the patience for most hand tools. I have been using the planes that folks at FWW have send me more frequently and with some success
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,698
    I started down this path because there were a few things I wanted to make that have will (imho) look better with hand cut dovetails. Specifically some of the narrow little pin ones which I find irrationally attractive). I'd agree that with modern glues a lot of other joints are plenty sturdy (but that's not why I'm here ).

    There are also a few things that seemed harder to setup with power tools. I'm working on a stand that has some sloped support bars which I was going to dovetail into the stretchers with (sort of) half blind sliding dovetails (ish ). I can do direct transfer pretty easily but doing the layout would be .. interesting.. with the angles involved.

    After doing a dozen or so they're getting ~close~ to being as fast for small stuff as it would be to setup a jig to do them for a one off.. Certainly if you were doing a lot of them that would be unlikely to be true. Notice I'm not claiming they're as tight (yet) but the light does appear to be somewhere down the tunnel now at least.

    The path from "I'd like to try this" through "angry beaver" to "looks moderately ok with judicious shimming" was somewhat faster than I'd feared but slower than I'd hoped

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Posts
    5,002
    I did the one a day drill several years ago and got pretty good at it....then never built anything with dovetails. I like the narrow pin ones too. I might give them a shot on some jewelry boxes sometime.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,014
    I did manage a good set one time.

    I don't feel the need.

    I like burning electrons.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bellingham
    Posts
    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    I've been playing with more hand cutting dovetails. Taking the "do one set per day and twice on Saturday" approach and they're starting to look like something resembling dovetails, although I've been sticking with the plain through dovetails for now (planning to move to blind/half blind and mitred once these start to look better).

    Was curious how many other folks have gone down this route or decided not to
    I didn't vote as there was not a category that fit. The first category is perfection and no one is perfect. If I were to add a category that fits me it would be "Manages to make them come out looking good most of the time".

    The key is the sawing and I enjoy hand sawing dovetails and tenons. I think I am good at it. I am not sure if it is natural ability or just practice, maybe both. It is very satisfying to know that you can do something that most people find difficult. In general, I really don't get much satisfaction from accomplishing a goal that is easily obtained. Maybe that is why I enjoy working with hand tools so much. I like walking the more difficult path.
    “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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Reno NV
    Posts
    13,353
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post
    I didn't vote as there was not a category that fit. The first category is perfection and no one is perfect. If I were to add a category that fits me it would be "Manages to make them come out looking good most of the time".
    I'd be willing to bet your 'Looking Good' most of us mere mortals would consider darn close to perfect.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,698
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    I'd be willing to bet your 'Looking Good' most of us mere mortals would consider darn close to perfect.
    Yep, this!

    Having an intermediate step may have been more accurate but I'm voting Bill is closer to 1 than 2 and I'll take that as our only 1 vote thus far


    I can agree with the accurate sawing and I will add that practising dovetails has made some of my other hand sawing better as well. Although I admit to flagrantly paring back to the lines when I actually need it to work.. I've also been impressed about how spiffy a well thought out shimming works (with full understanding that both of these are crutches).

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post
    I didn't vote as there was not a category that fit. The first category is perfection and no one is perfect. If I were to add a category that fits me it would be "Manages to make them come out looking good most of the time".
    I agree that the category which matched my experience was absent -- I too, did not vote for that reason.

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