A little dovetailing

littledovetailingA few weeks ago I had an advanced dovetailing class in the shop. One of the students brought along some wood he thought would seriously challenge my abilities. During a class like the advanced dovetailing class, there are lulls for me where the students are wrapped up in the task at hand. Once I had gotten the class started on cutting Bermuda dovetails, I decided to take up the challenge set before me. In between assisting students with laying out their Bermuda dovetails and watching their sawing technique, I took about ten or fifteen minutes to cut some through dovetails of my own in the challenge wood.

I have to admit, it took longer than I thought but proved to be easier than I expected. Now, you’re probably looking at the photo and wondering what was so challenging about cutting those dovetails. I mean, the wood looks like it isn’t particularly figured nor does it appear particularly hard. So, what’s the big deal?

Actually, it’s no BIG deal at all.

The challenge was to cut some dovetails in lumber milled to about 3/32″ thick. I used my regular Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw and my regular benchchisels. I didn’t change my dovetail method one bit except to make everything a whole lot smaller. I’ve tried to tell people for years now, it’s not the tool it’s the technique. Once you learn and develop good sawing habits, nearly anything is possible.

If you’re looking to step up your game a little, try going small…really small…and let me know how you make out.

Now if I can only figure out how to cut Bermuda Dovetails on material this size…

— Chuck Bender





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One thought on “A little dovetailing

  1. I gave it a try on some 1/8″ boards, (actually it measures out at 9/64″), using it to fabricate a small drawer. The dovetails didn’t come out anything as nice as yours, but the construction was solid, and the resulting drawer 1/2 the weight of my previous effort. Considering the intended usage, it will certainly be strong enough. Instead of trying to do half blind dovetails on the drawer front, I just glued another 9/64″ board onto it.

    Should I have tried the half dovetails? I’m adventurous, but I’ve got big hands, and my eyesight is less than spectacular.

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