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Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks
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Took a woodworking class today up in ATL at Highland Woodworking on the basics of making dovetail joints the old fashioned way. Sure i know you can use a jig and router but where's the challenge in that? So i took this class on making dovetails the old fashioned way.

Let me just say. I am no threat to Amish craftsmen or Jrosa anytime soon haha





It's much harder than it looks. The theory is simple but try sawing and then chiseling so precisely--tougher than i thought.






Well it's a good excuse to buy more tools for my shop! hehe.

When i get back to the World in the spring I'm gonna take the class on sharpening chisels, planes, and gouges.

good stuff

Steve
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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I tried this once and screwed it up so bad that I never tried again. Both my dad and my FIL were very good wood workers and could do these joints. In fact we have their examples in our house with furniture they made many decades ago.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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As a first crack that is actually pretty good. Biggest issue is your pins should protrude slightly and be pared back flush. What you did is adequate for case work that would be convered by trim. A good wheel marking guage would help, and better chisel than marples will help.
Also, as you practice, go get some poplar. The open grain in pine is doing you no favors. I find softwood dovetails much harder than a tighter grain hardwood (blades wander less).
Just keep at it, it gets easier fairly quickly, until you start working on tiger or curly whatever.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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thanks and will do!

/r

Steve
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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I’ve gotten into these joints a bit since I got some hand tools for Xmas. Watch paul sellers on YouTube. He is an amazing instructor. His videos are so helpful!
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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Honestly, I think the key is patience. Don't rush the cuts.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [racin_rusty] [ In reply to ]
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While partially.correct, my biggest advice is don't sweat perfect accuracy to start.
The dovetail had been around for a couple of thousand years, and was a joint that provided a good mechanical lock that would help bring the structures to near square. It wasn't until stickley and the arts and crafts movement that is became a showcase.
Back in the 1700s a beginning apprentice would make detailed stewards and had to produce several a day. The joints were not even, nor were they uniformly tight.
So when you start, think like an apprentice. A bit of inaccuracy is ok, and figure out ways to tight it up. Other than that, practice.
There are lots of tricks I could tell, but again, learn the basics and don't sweat perfection.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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this class was on exactly that--the basics. i'd never sawn/chiseled a dovetail joint in my life until today. It was very eye opening. Eventually i intend to make a presentation case for my flintlock rifle and i intend to make the case by hand with dovetails for the main container. It will be quite a journey. i a looking forward to it

got a list of tools from the class i need to buy and practice with

Going to make a wooden box for black powder storage and transport as my first real project. I will practice practice practice before going final on something even as simple as the powder box.


/r

Steve
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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Feel free to message me the tool list. I can probably point you to some affordable options. Will sends you some tips as well.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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That's actually a really good first attempt. Forget the router and jigs. You will enjoy the experience far more with hand tools.

The first time I cut dovetails, I was a young apprenticing carpenter and I wanted to make my girlfriend (now wife) a jewelry box. I had a couple wood working books and thought I'd give it a shot. The problem was, my tools were all shit as I was mainly working for a framing company at that time. So first I had to learn how to sharpen my chisels. I spent hours after class in trade school hunched over wet stones. I bought an old, rusted Stanley jack plane and had to tune that up too, all by hand. Took me around 3 months to get to the point where I had tools sufficiently sharp enough to even attempt cutting one damn set of half-blind dovetails for one drawer, joining a walnut face with cherry sides. Now that I have a shop full of nice tools and a more advanced skill set, I've promised to make her another one so she can pass the first on to our 6 month old daughter at some point. She loves that box, imperfect dovetails and all.

My one tip: stay out of Lee Valley if you value your savings account!
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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jriosa wrote:
As a first crack that is actually pretty good. Biggest issue is your pins should protrude slightly and be pared back flush. What you did is adequate for case work that would be convered by trim. A good wheel marking guage would help, and better chisel than marples will help.
Also, as you practice, go get some poplar. The open grain in pine is doing you no favors. I find softwood dovetails much harder than a tighter grain hardwood (blades wander less).
Just keep at it, it gets easier fairly quickly, until you start working on tiger or curly whatever.

Spot on advice here.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [BCtriguy1] [ In reply to ]
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Much Mahalo to you and Jim

I'm going away for a few months but when i get back to the world i plan on diving deeper into this hobby. So

As Jim said the pins should be a little more proud. And then i gather you shave/plane them down? What size type hand plane do you use for that application?

i know someone will chime in to say 'build your own woodworking bench' but i plan to just throw $ at that problem. So advice on benchs and vices/clamping systems appreciated. One thing i found in this class yesterday is that at 6'5" i am headed for back problems when hunched over a 'regular' sized bench. So whatever woodworking bench i get i will be raising it up to real man height ;-0

i got a Lynx dovetail saw and have a variety of Narex chisels (they are for mortises). I've got a lot of odd assorted small chisels and gouges (mostly from Track of the Wolf) to work on my Flintlock rifle project. At some point--in addition to planes--i will need some basic wood working chisels?

Pics of this jewelry box would be awesome?

/r

Steve
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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You can use a low-angle block plane to trim end grain pins flush, but, a sharp chisel can also pare them down nicely. There are specialty paring chisels for this task, but a regular bench chisel is fine too.

Re: workbenches. This is one hell of a rabbit hole to go down. I ended up making a modified version of the Ron Paulk bench out of baltic birch plywood, shown here (http://www.paulkhomes.com/order-plans.html). It's awesome for my needs, split between job sites and my home shop. I made two 7'2" x 32" x 5" boxes that join together, so it can be easily broken down, carted to job sites, etc. I keep one set up in my shop as my basic work bench, which I can expand for bigger projects. I like my benches a bit higher as well which is easy to accommodate.

All you really need is a surface that is level, flat, and sturdy at a comfortable height, with a clamp. Everything else is a "nice to have" but you could live without, IMO. Jim probably has more advice and experience in this department.

As for clamps, it depends on what you plan on building. I like Bessey F-style clamps as they are good quality and pretty versatile. I once had to buy around 50 clamps for a large, curved bench I was laminating and epoxying together and went with a cheaper, house brand called Magnum. They worked fine, but have since started breaking down with pretty light use after only a couple years.

A decent set of bench chisels is always handy. I have a Narex set I've been quite happy with. Between those, a block, jack and maybe scrub plane, and a couple saws (dovetail, coping, flush cut) you can tackle quite a lot. I love the Japanese style pull saws, they are a dream to use. From there, you can add on tools that are tuned for speciality work specific to the projects you take on.

My phone died on Friday but will snap some pics of the jewelry box and send it your way at some point.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [BCtriguy1] [ In reply to ]
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Best clamps I have are my dad's Bessey's. I wish I had more pipe clamps, I have a project idea that has some unique clamping problems.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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Ok - things I would think about for tools.

First a good marking gauge. Get one that uses a wheel, not a blade, as blades can track grain and create a wobbly line. I would suggest the following - http://www.leevalley.com/...5849&cat=1,42936
Also, a set of striking knives are very useful as they will give a cut line to set your chisel in. - something like this - http://www.leevalley.com/...42936,42949&ap=1
The Lynx is a fine saw, but like BC I use mostly Japanese saws for all my hand work now.
Chisels - you can go crazy here, but I do most of my work with the general bevel edge from Lee Valley - Narex makes a comparable set - I like the bevel edge for two reasons - it gets into corners a bit easier and if you are paring you have a little less resistance. I have been using this set for nearly 20 years (set of 5) = http://www.leevalley.com/...41504,43500&ap=1
I also use a deadblow hammer (unless I am carving)
Sharpening is another long involved story. You can invest a ton in various types of stones, gauges and guides. I know do most of my bench tools with a Work Sharp. Except for carving and lathe tools it does everything I need, and I will get some of those attachments when needed. Vastly less expensive than a Tormek. Once you true up the blades, an occasional touch up is all that is needed.
Benches. First figure out the size you will need. They generally range from 60-84" length. Since I do large cabinet panels I go longer. Most folks would be best with a 72". You will minimally need a front vise. Make sure you get one that uses the apron flush with the edge of the bench. Most basic steel vises will be an inch or so proud of the edge, and edge planing long boards is a pain without supplemental support. Some form of tail vise is also useful for working with long stock. You will want to put in 3/4 inch holes for bench dogs, stops or holdfasts. If you don't want to go the holdfast route, Leigh tools makes a good surface clamp - https://www.leighjigs.com/hold-down_clamp.php
Mass in a bench is important - you will be pounding and planing, so stability is a must. Make sure all the leg joints are strong. You can do good mortise and tenon, carriage bolts, cast iron legs, whatever. You will be looking 1200-2400 to buy a good bench with vises. It will cost you at least half that to build your own, assuming you are set up to do all your own milling.
Let me know if you have other questions.

Edit to add - bench height can vary a lot on what you are doing. There are companies now that are making hydraulic height adjusters for workbenches. You may want to think about this. I always have a smaller, lower bench for finishing, but beyond that at 6'2" like a slightly lower bench so I can put my weight into things - too tall and I find it harder to work.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
Last edited by: jriosa: Feb 11, 18 15:33
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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For sharpening, I'm a big fan of Lee Valley's hard felt wheel & green chrome. IMO, it's hard to beat.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [racin_rusty] [ In reply to ]
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for flat blades I use a leather strop and the green chrome.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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Do you use the work sharp ws3000? I've looked at those, but never pulled the trigger. I think it's time though. I generally use a sharpening service as my stuff gets dinged up a lot (job site work, lazy apprentices, etc) but I haven't been happy with their work lately, it seems like they give it a rough ground but you don't get near a mirror finish on the blades or even micro bevel, and often have burrs left on the blades.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [BCtriguy1] [ In reply to ]
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Yup - with the wide blade attachment for my larger plane blades. Also have the attachment for tormek gouge and lathe sharpening jigs, but haven't sprung for those jigs yet.
Went through all my blades when I got it, flattened the backs, squared up the leading edge, then sharpened to micro bevel. Now I only need a quick run to reset the micro bevel. Easy peasy.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Steve Hawley] [ In reply to ]
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And just to add an inspiration to always experiment with woodworking, this project was done solely to see if I could pull off a mission finish on red oak. It gives my clients a cheaper option than white oak, had a unique figure, and comes very close to period correct

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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beautiful ! Truly an art form. Anyone who has messed with word working recognizes the talent. I poked around on your website and you make some amazing stuff.
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [Leddy] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks. There is more time in finish than milling and assembly to pull that off.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
Creating custom made furnishing to your requirements
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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Much Mahalo to you and BC

i can see how one could drop some serious coin walking around Highland Woodworking up in ATL.

I'll have several months to ponder on benches. Will start with the basic tools you and BC recommend.

your pic's are inspirational

In terms of getting the wood set up to work with? Just a quality table saw? Do you need a planer?

thanks!

/r

Steve
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [BCtriguy1] [ In reply to ]
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Huge thanks to you and Jim

I've a crappy work bench i fab'd up myself and it's where i do most of my work. As i started working on this flintlock rifle project i realized how nice it would be to have a wood working specific work bench

the class i took the other day only confirmed that. right tool for the right job.

The benches you pointed me towards are amazing! thanks



Steve
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Re: Dovetail Joints--Harder than it looks [jriosa] [ In reply to ]
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So in terms of marking gauges i was thinking of getting this one? i can use it to mark lines for dovetails and use the dual wheel capability for laying out mortises as well??

https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ualmarkinggauge.aspx

/r

Steve
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