Festool Owners Group

GENERAL DISCUSSIONS => Hand Tools => Topic started by: Mismarked on February 20, 2015, 11:08 AM

Title: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Mismarked on February 20, 2015, 11:08 AM
Was wondering if any of the experienced guys had any advice about learning how to do dovetails, i.e., router and jig vs. hand tools.  I have an OF 1400 and bought a dovetail jig a couple of months ago, which I have not even tried to set up yet, but have some time this weekend.  Was wondering if anyone thought it would be best to learn to do it by hand first and then move to the router method after getting the feel for how these things go together, or vice versa.  As a hobbyist, I am in no rush to complete projects, but just want to learn the techniques.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Jesse Cloud on February 20, 2015, 11:31 AM
Not sure I qualify as "experienced", but that doesn't keep me from having opinions. [big grin]
First of all, I would start with the router jig.  That will give you the basic idea of how they fit together and why they may be worth doing by hand.  DTs cut with standard spacing jigs can be boring.  The jigs that offer variable spacing are persnickety and take a lot of set up.  Hand cut DTs can be pretty much anything that comes to mind.

In either method, its important that the stock be cut dead square or you just won't get a good fit.

A woodworker I greatly respect who is a master at dts told me that for fine furniture, he hand cuts.  But if he were making kitchen cabinets, he would go for the jig.

When you first use your jig, take the time to fuss with it to dial in just the right fit.  Do that on some scrap pieces the same width and thickness as your project pieces.  If your jig won't hold its settings, look for a better one.  Life is too short...

Small gaps can be fixed with wedges made from cutoffs, so save those so you can match the grain for your patches.

When you try hand cutting, don't be tempted by all the dozens of different approaches.  I did that for a long time.  Didn't get a good result so I tried a new method.  Went thru this several times until I realized that I never stuck with one method long enough to develop the skill.  Stuck on one method and soon started cutting decent dts.

You tube is your friend.  There are lots of good videos out there.

Hope something in here helped.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: jacko9 on February 20, 2015, 12:07 PM
While I have the Leigh Dovetail jig for making drawers for cabinets, I still hand cut a lot of dovetails in furniture construction.  If you decide to take the hand cut approach look carefully into quality dovetail saws and a few good chisels.

If you do decide to take the hand approach I would avoid some of the newer chisels on the market like the Nadex chisels a small Czech company importing through various suppliers since I just destroyed a very sharp edge with one dovetail socket in white oak.

Jack
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: tjskinny on February 20, 2015, 12:51 PM
For learning one type of jig method Peter Parfitt put together a couple of videos using the 1400 with the Leigh jig.

Part 1

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N4DKUq4dtQ4

Part 2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h3yzAhjpMr8



Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Mismarked on February 20, 2015, 01:07 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.  I will start with the jig, and at least I won't have to buy any more tools for now.  I am sure I will want to try the hand tools at some point after I get the lay of the land and will look at a good set of chisels and a saw.  Right now, I have some old, random chisels that are at least sharp, but seem more suited for home improvement projects or opening beer cans than making drawers.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on February 20, 2015, 01:51 PM
I'd say that, unless you have a huge amount of time to practice cutting dovetails by hand, you're smart to stick with the jig. I know that pros and long-time woodworkers usually recommend learning to cut by hand, but I have never been able to hand cut a dovetail of superior quality to a machine/jig cut dovetail, don't currently have the time to spend practicing, and mostly am not that interested in perfecting my hand cut technique. I think the time is better spent doing the setup on a jig for router cut dovetails. Even though it sometimes is a little tricky to get them to fit perfect, for me, the chance of a professional good-looking result is much better with a router/jig. I currently have an Incra system router table/fence and that is actually the easiest way I have found to dovetails, but there are many jigs out there that work. The one that is easiest to setup and use is the one I'd try to acquire. Leigh makes great ones, but I don't know about ease of setup. Akeda also makes great tools, but again, I don't know about setup. Regardless, practice on scrap is always a first step for me just to be sure the fit is right.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: jacko9 on February 20, 2015, 09:15 PM
The Leigh dovetail jig is quite easy to set up and use even though the manual is quite wordy.  The best part is that they have designed a dust control fixture to work with the dovetail jig and coupled with my Festool Ct22 made cutting dovetails by machine pleasant for the first time.

Prior to buying the Leigh (a long time ago) I had the rather simple Sears Craftsman dovetail jig that works very well but, I got so sick and tired of clouds of dust and chips blowing in my face I learned to cut them by hand.

There are situations where you need to cut them by hand like the top rails in cabinets where you do a single dovetail to supplement your Domino joints with the drawer blades.

I can't emphasise the dust concern enough using a router so check out the Leigh web site if you already have the Festool Dust Extractor.

Jack
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Ollie on March 23, 2015, 06:19 PM
Dovetails by machine = Incra

http://www.incra.com/ (http://www.incra.com/)


Dovetails by hand = David Barron.

http://www.davidbarronfurniture.co.uk/ (http://www.davidbarronfurniture.co.uk/)

Works for me.

Ollie
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Brent Taylor on March 28, 2015, 11:12 AM
I do all my dovetails by hand,  some with routers but most by hand.  Box joints by table saw. Had a jig ,but unless it was a full kitchen or desk project, it takes more time to setup than to cut by hand. Plus  you can get the Zen of the work. Start out with pine or scrap,  learn which way the force are acting on the joint  and have fun.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: jacko9 on March 28, 2015, 12:05 PM
I tend to agree with Brent most times it just takes too long to dial in the router jig to get a tight fit.  There have been several articles in Fine Woodworking magazine giving details and tips for hand cutting dovetails.  You can join Fine Woodworking.com and get access to these helpful articles and other good typo and techniques.

Jack
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on March 28, 2015, 12:10 PM
Dovetails by machine = Incra

http://www.incra.com/ (http://www.incra.com/)


Dovetails by hand = David Barron.

http://www.davidbarronfurniture.co.uk/ (http://www.davidbarronfurniture.co.uk/)

Works for me.



Ollie

I've tried to learn by hand, used other dovetail jigs, and, in fact, I have a very expensive Porter Cable Omnijig with router bits and the original template. It does work great, but it still requires much more effort and setup than my Incra table. This is especially true for half blinds. They are easy on the Incra and don't require much setup other than setting the bit depth for the wood thickness you're using and some centering. After that it's really very simple and the rest is just doing the actual work. If I were to cut tails by hand, they just wouldn't look as good. I know it because I tried that at one point in my life. I want a great finished product and don't get that with hand cut. Maybe I'm just unskilled or just impatient.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Peter Parfitt on March 28, 2015, 12:16 PM
Which dovetail jig have you got?

Peter
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on March 28, 2015, 01:52 PM
Which dovetail jig have you got?

Peter

Don't know if you mean me, but I have the Incra table and, so far, feel I have the best success with that of anything else I've used. The Porter Cable Omnijig is also a great tool, but expensive and still seems to require setup each time even though it is supposed to be more repeatable by allowing you to custom set depth stops on the jig for future use.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Peter Parfitt on March 28, 2015, 02:24 PM
Hi grbmds,

Try looking at the dovetail drawer part of this set of videos and then pose what questions you might have:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos- (http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-)!/

Peter
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Mr Heavy on April 24, 2015, 07:14 AM
Whatever you do thereafter, you MUST watch the Frank Krausz DVD: (I'm trying to edit this huge space out of the text but it's trying to trip me up.)  Sample on Youtube  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-o4jryTkUc) It might not be the way you want to go, but the education is priceless.

Also watch any/all of the Incra videos on youtube. Chalk and cheese, but essential viewing.

personally, I'm in the Incra camp, but I just had a go with the Festool jig and it's the most twatproof solution I've ever seen.

Oh - I've had great success with the Stott (Stottman?) DIY template jig for through dovetails. Cheapest solution, great fun to build and use and the results are first class.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on April 24, 2015, 09:29 AM
Hi grbmds,

Try looking at the dovetail drawer part of this set of videos and then pose what questions you might have:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos- (http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-)!/

Peter

Peter,

Sorry, I didn't have time to do anything with this till this morning. Where is the link supposed to take me? I only get another FOG page with, I think, member projects. I always am interested in learning. However, I am just completing a set of drawers for a work table for storage in my shop. I used the Incra fence/table to cut half-blind dovetails. It's hard for me to imagine I could do a better job with another method, especially hand-cut. I know the Incra requires a little more work on through dovetails with a hand chisel, but I still think I couldn't do any better any other way. I will still look at the material in the link though, but what am I looking for with the link?

Randy
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on April 27, 2015, 07:45 PM
Whatever you do thereafter, you MUST watch the Frank Krausz DVD: (I'm trying to edit this huge space out of the text but it's trying to trip me up.)  Sample on Youtube  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-o4jryTkUc) It might not be the way you want to go, but the education is priceless.

Also watch any/all of the Incra videos on youtube. Chalk and cheese, but essential viewing.

personally, I'm in the Incra camp, but I just had a go with the Festool jig and it's the most twatproof solution I've ever seen.

Oh - I've had great success with the Stott (Stottman?) DIY template jig for through dovetails. Cheapest solution, great fun to build and use and the results are first class.

Frank is awesome!

In regards to the original poster, there are so many ways to hand cut dovetails. I am on that same journey. I have really only truly tried once.

Some stress Pins first. Many teach tails first. Some argue right off of the saw with very little paring, others get close, pare with the chisel. I am thinking of Trying a spiral blade on a fret saw to minimize the paring.Spiral blade for dovetail waste removal (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2USw9vYHMCM)
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Peter Parfitt on April 28, 2015, 02:33 AM
Hi grbmds,

Try looking at the dovetail drawer part of this set of videos and then pose what questions you might have:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/ (http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/)

Peter

Peter,

Sorry, I didn't have time to do anything with this till this morning. Where is the link supposed to take me? I only get another FOG page with, I think, member projects. I always am interested in learning. However, I am just completing a set of drawers for a work table for storage in my shop. I used the Incra fence/table to cut half-blind dovetails. It's hard for me to imagine I could do a better job with another method, especially hand-cut. I know the Incra requires a little more work on through dovetails with a hand chisel, but I still think I couldn't do any better any other way. I will still look at the material in the link though, but what am I looking for with the link?

Randy

Hi Randy

I am sorry for the delay (more grandchildren have arrived and one in an incubator).

This is the right link to the FOG thread:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/ (http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/)

Peter

Edited straight away:

I do not know why this is happening and I have no time to sort it out.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel - just find the Pedestal Desk Project in the various video sections.

http://www.youtube.com/user/StoneMessage (http://www.youtube.com/user/StoneMessage)

Peter

<<EDIT:  Fixed Link - P. Halle - Moderator>>
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on April 28, 2015, 07:27 AM
Hi grbmds,

Try looking at the dovetail drawer part of this set of videos and then pose what questions you might have:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/ (http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/)

Peter

Peter,

Sorry, I didn't have time to do anything with this till this morning. Where is the link supposed to take me? I only get another FOG page with, I think, member projects. I always am interested in learning. However, I am just completing a set of drawers for a work table for storage in my shop. I used the Incra fence/table to cut half-blind dovetails. It's hard for me to imagine I could do a better job with another method, especially hand-cut. I know the Incra requires a little more work on through dovetails with a hand chisel, but I still think I couldn't do any better any other way. I will still look at the material in the link though, but what am I looking for with the link?

Randy

Hi Randy

I am sorry for the delay (more grandchildren have arrived and one in an incubator).

This is the right link to the FOG thread:

http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/ (http://festoolownersgroup.com/member-projects/pedestal-desk-in-walnut-with-a-leather-top-9-videos-!/)

Peter

Edited straight away:

I do not know why this is happening and I have no time to sort it out.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel - just find the Pedestal Desk Project in the various video sections.

http://www.youtube.com/user/StoneMessage (http://www.youtube.com/user/StoneMessage)

Peter

<<EDIT:  Fixed Link - P. Halle - Moderator>>
Got it!. Thanks.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Peter Parfitt on April 28, 2015, 08:49 AM
Many thanks for fixing the link Peter.

Peter
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on May 01, 2015, 05:17 AM
Was wondering if any of the experienced guys had any advice about learning how to do dovetails, i.e., router and jig vs. hand tools.  I have an OF 1400 and bought a dovetail jig a couple of months ago, which I have not even tried to set up yet, but have some time this weekend.  Was wondering if anyone thought it would be best to learn to do it by hand first and then move to the router method after getting the feel for how these things go together, or vice versa.  As a hobbyist, I am in no rush to complete projects, but just want to learn the techniques.  Thanks.

Not really addressing your initial question in regards to which technique you should learn first, but am giving another option to learn.

The Dovetail Collection- Popular Woodworking (http://www.shopwoodworking.com/the-dovetail-collection-a-knife-a-jig-expert-instruction?source=igodigital)

I do think there is value in learning to do by hand first. I usually get a better idea about what a joining technique is all about when I learn to do it by hand. Most of the time when I use a machine, I am more focused on the machine and it's settings then I am on the joint/ fit, form,and the joints function. For whatever reason, I think more about how things relate when I learn to do it by hand first. Plus by learning both techniques, it sometimes helps me learn fixes to mistakes.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on May 01, 2015, 01:01 PM
Was wondering if any of the experienced guys had any advice about learning how to do dovetails, i.e., router and jig vs. hand tools.  I have an OF 1400 and bought a dovetail jig a couple of months ago, which I have not even tried to set up yet, but have some time this weekend.  Was wondering if anyone thought it would be best to learn to do it by hand first and then move to the router method after getting the feel for how these things go together, or vice versa.  As a hobbyist, I am in no rush to complete projects, but just want to learn the techniques.  Thanks.

Not really addressing your initial question in regards to which technique you should learn first, but am giving another option to learn.

The Dovetail Collection- Popular Woodworking (http://www.shopwoodworking.com/the-dovetail-collection-a-knife-a-jig-expert-instruction?source=igodigital)

I do think there is value in learning to do by hand first. I usually get a better idea about what a joining technique is all about when I learn to do it by hand. Most of the time when I use a machine, I am more focused on the machine and it's settings then I am on the joint/ fit, form,and the joints function. For whatever reason, I think more about how things relate when I learn to do it by hand first. Plus by learning both techniques, it sometimes helps me learn fixes to mistakes.

While I think it's a great idea to learn how to hand cut dovetails, I don't do it. I tried for awhile and just got frustrated given my limited time in the shop. I have found that, with my recent acquisition of the Incra combo, I can focus on the fit and get excellent and relatively quick results. I have not tried variable sized dovetails but believe it would also be fairly easy. It is addressed as a possible option by skipping appropriate template marks and/or making adjacent cuts, depending on whether you're cutting pins or tails. Obviously there is not quite as much flexibility as when you cut them by hand in terms of design. For me, I want them to look good, fit tight enough to be solid joints, and I don't want to take forever to do them. Those who have done a lot of hand cut dovetails go with that, but I just don't want to spend the time doing that at this point in my life. Some get more satisfaction from the process of handcuttiing. Whatever gives you the most satisfaction is what you should do. That is what woodworking is all about for me.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on May 01, 2015, 05:00 PM
Was wondering if any of the experienced guys had any advice about learning how to do dovetails, i.e., router and jig vs. hand tools.  I have an OF 1400 and bought a dovetail jig a couple of months ago, which I have not even tried to set up yet, but have some time this weekend.  Was wondering if anyone thought it would be best to learn to do it by hand first and then move to the router method after getting the feel for how these things go together, or vice versa.  As a hobbyist, I am in no rush to complete projects, but just want to learn the techniques.  Thanks.

Not really addressing your initial question in regards to which technique you should learn first, but am giving another option to learn.

The Dovetail Collection- Popular Woodworking (http://www.shopwoodworking.com/the-dovetail-collection-a-knife-a-jig-expert-instruction?source=igodigital)

I do think there is value in learning to do by hand first. I usually get a better idea about what a joining technique is all about when I learn to do it by hand. Most of the time when I use a machine, I am more focused on the machine and it's settings then I am on the joint/ fit, form,and the joints function. For whatever reason, I think more about how things relate when I learn to do it by hand first. Plus by learning both techniques, it sometimes helps me learn fixes to mistakes.

While I think it's a great idea to learn how to hand cut dovetails, I don't do it. I tried for awhile and just got frustrated given my limited time in the shop. I have found that, with my recent acquisition of the Incra combo, I can focus on the fit and get excellent and relatively quick results. I have not tried variable sized dovetails but believe it would also be fairly easy. It is addressed as a possible option by skipping appropriate template marks and/or making adjacent cuts, depending on whether you're cutting pins or tails. Obviously there is not quite as much flexibility as when you cut them by hand in terms of design. For me, I want them to look good, fit tight enough to be solid joints, and I don't want to take forever to do them. Those who have done a lot of hand cut dovetails go with that, but I just don't want to spend the time doing that at this point in my life. Some get more satisfaction from the process of handcuttiing. Whatever gives you the most satisfaction is what you should do. That is what woodworking is all about for me.

Agree! For me woodworking is currently a hobby. I have little to no formal training and I learn best from hands on experiences. With that said, for whatever reason, It seems to stick with me a little better if I give it a go with hand tools first.

The quality of work? That's a whole different conversation. :-[

I really like threads like this because they make me think about how, and why I am doing what I am doing. One can gain just as much satisfaction creating things totally by machine, as they can totally by hand or some combination. I'm greedy, so I am hopeful that I can get to the point where I can successfully create dovetails by hand and with my Leigh Jig. I will be watching Peter's video(s) on the Leigh Jig. I have a Super 24. I've yet to learn to use it.

In the meantime, I am hoping to settle on a way to hand cut dovetails. I have a Glen-Drake saw and a Dozuki saw, but am still considering getting a traditional Western style rift cut dovetail saw(Veritas? Lie Niesen?) before I lock into a technique. Since I have a Glen Drake, I think I will revisit some of his techniques. After that I will try a traditional western saw and see what I like best?

Glen Drake tools: Using a Joinery saw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfBvQEih5BE)

BTW I got the Glen Drake saw because I had trouble starting cuts. I now know that there are some tricks to starting a cut with traditional Western saws.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on May 01, 2015, 05:04 PM
Was wondering if any of the experienced guys had any advice about learning how to do dovetails, i.e., router and jig vs. hand tools.  I have an OF 1400 and bought a dovetail jig a couple of months ago, which I have not even tried to set up yet, but have some time this weekend.  Was wondering if anyone thought it would be best to learn to do it by hand first and then move to the router method after getting the feel for how these things go together, or vice versa.  As a hobbyist, I am in no rush to complete projects, but just want to learn the techniques.  Thanks.

Not really addressing your initial question in regards to which technique you should learn first, but am giving another option to learn.

The Dovetail Collection- Popular Woodworking (http://www.shopwoodworking.com/the-dovetail-collection-a-knife-a-jig-expert-instruction?source=igodigital)

I do think there is value in learning to do by hand first. I usually get a better idea about what a joining technique is all about when I learn to do it by hand. Most of the time when I use a machine, I am more focused on the machine and it's settings then I am on the joint/ fit, form,and the joints function. For whatever reason, I think more about how things relate when I learn to do it by hand first. Plus by learning both techniques, it sometimes helps me learn fixes to mistakes.

While I think it's a great idea to learn how to hand cut dovetails, I don't do it. I tried for awhile and just got frustrated given my limited time in the shop. I have found that, with my recent acquisition of the Incra combo, I can focus on the fit and get excellent and relatively quick results. I have not tried variable sized dovetails but believe it would also be fairly easy. It is addressed as a possible option by skipping appropriate template marks and/or making adjacent cuts, depending on whether you're cutting pins or tails. Obviously there is not quite as much flexibility as when you cut them by hand in terms of design. For me, I want them to look good, fit tight enough to be solid joints, and I don't want to take forever to do them. Those who have done a lot of hand cut dovetails go with that, but I just don't want to spend the time doing that at this point in my life. Some get more satisfaction from the process of handcuttiing. Whatever gives you the most satisfaction is what you should do. That is what woodworking is all about for me.

Agree! For me woodworking is currently a hobby. I have little to no formal training and I learn best from hands on experiences. With that said, for whatever reason, It seems to stick with me a little better if I give it a go with hand tools first.

The quality of work? That's a whole different conversation. :-[

I really like threads like this because they make me think about how, and why I am doing what I am doing. One can gain just as much satisfaction creating things totally by machine, as they can totally by hand or some combination. I'm greedy, so I am hopeful that I can get to the point where I can successfully create dovetails by hand and with my Leigh Jig. I will be watching Peter's video(s) on the Leigh Jig. I have a Super 24. I've yet to learn to use it.

In the meantime, I am hoping to settle on a way to hand cut dovetails. I have a Glen-Drake saw and a Dozuki saw, but am still considering getting a traditional Western style rift cut dovetail saw(Veritas? Lie Niesen?) before I lock into a technique. Since I have a Glen Drake, I think I will revisit some of his techniques. After that I will try a traditional western saw and see what I like best?

Glen Drake tools: Using a Joinery saw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfBvQEih5BE)

BTW I got the Glen Drake saw because I had trouble starting cuts. I now know that there are some tricks to starting a cut with traditional Western saws.

I find that, to determine if a particular method works for me for any work, I need to give a fair shot by using it for an extended period of time before switching methods. Otherwise it's hard to gain the skills to know if it works or not.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on May 01, 2015, 06:54 PM
"I find that, to determine if a particular method works for me for any work, I need to give a fair shot by using it for an extended period of time before switching methods. Otherwise it's hard to gain the skills to know if it works or not."

Makes sense to me. I was mostly referring to which saw I would use. As I think about techniques, I am also trying to decide which saw works the best for me. Trying to find a balance between ease of cut(especially starting the cut) and keeping the cut straight. Once I figure out that part, I will be following your advice and locking into a particular way until I get proficient at it.

I am borderline obsessing on the saw part, because I know that I will need to be proficient at sawing for any of the hand techniques to work well. Right now many of my cuts look like I am trying to make 3D Jigsaw puzzle pieces...
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on May 01, 2015, 09:00 PM
Also makes sense, but it's sometimes really just getting used to a tool or developing skills with it. With sharpening, for example, the expert advice is to pick jigs, honing guides, stones, and stick with them for awhile; maybe even as long as 6 months or a year. Some things it just takes practice to get good. I would think hand-cutting dovetails is one of those things and getting comfortable with a saw would be a big deal.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: RL on May 01, 2015, 10:11 PM
I can't see any skill overlap between machine-cutting dovetails and hand-cutting them with the exception of having to accurately prepare square stock. They rarely even look the same! One is to do with precisely setting up a jig and router and the other involves accurate marking out, sawing, chiseling and paring.

There's not even much overlap between the type of dovetails you can do with each method. You can achieve much finer pins when hand-cutting than with a router bit.

So I would choose a method based on what look you are going for, and which skills you want to develop. 
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: jacko9 on May 01, 2015, 10:21 PM
One word of advise I'll give on hand cutting of dovetails is start with "friendly wood".  If you try using white oak or other open pore woods you'll run into a lot of saw drift, edge splitting, etc.


Start with a wood like mahogany or poplar where you get a chance to develop your techniques without the more troublesome issues with difficult woods.

Sharpening requires a lot of practice and I know from experience that your fingers will bleed trying to hold that edge just right while trying to get the perfect edge.  It's not metal residue when it's red!

The Veritas MkII sharpening jig along with the Shapton Glass or Shapton Pro water stones will give you the best result in the shortest time and serve you well for many years.

A quote from one of the woodworking experts I read a long time ago was if your going to build a hope chest for your first project build it for small hopes [wink]

Jack
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on May 06, 2015, 11:21 PM
I can't see any skill overlap between machine-cutting dovetails and hand-cutting them with the exception of having to accurately prepare square stock. They rarely even look the same! One is to do with precisely setting up a jig and router and the other involves accurate marking out, sawing, chiseling and paring.

There's not even much overlap between the type of dovetails you can do with each method. You can achieve much finer pins when hand-cutting than with a router bit.

So I would choose a method based on what look you are going for, and which skills you want to develop.

Valid points. For me, handcutting dovetails is what I would prefer for many reasons. The main one is that I mostly build one offs. I could see in the future that I may want to build something with multiple drawers, etc., or join a large cabinet. That is why I am still hopeful that one day I can do both well.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: jacko9 on May 07, 2015, 11:21 AM
I can't see any skill overlap between machine-cutting dovetails and hand-cutting them with the exception of having to accurately prepare square stock. They rarely even look the same! One is to do with precisely setting up a jig and router and the other involves accurate marking out, sawing, chiseling and paring.

There's not even much overlap between the type of dovetails you can do with each method. You can achieve much finer pins when hand-cutting than with a router bit.

So I would choose a method based on what look you are going for, and which skills you want to develop.

Valid points. For me, handcutting dovetails is what I would prefer for many reasons. The main one is that I mostly build one offs. I could see in the future that I may want to build something with multiple drawers, etc., or join a large cabinet. That is why I am still hopeful that one day I can do both well.

Get some of the books by James Krenov and read about his treatment of hand cut dovetails and you will see that there is a difference between hand made and machine made if you can execute them like he did.  I have the Leigh 24" dovetail jig and yes I can cut variable spaced dovetails but I'm still stuck with the geometry of the router cutter.

Jack
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: grbmds on May 07, 2015, 02:29 PM
Maybe there is more flexibility with handout. However, I want my finished product to look good also. My hand cut dovetails never looked good and I will admit to really just not wanting to spend the time. There is no skill overlap between hand cut and machine cut dovetails. For me, though, other than learning about dovetails, there has never been an upside to hand cutting dovetails. I love woodworking and creating pieces from wood whether drawers or other items. However, I do love doing other things also, like fishing, golf, fly fishing, hiking, bicycling, reading, watching movies, traveling.  .   . If I spend my time perfecting my hand cut dovetail technique time for other things suffer. So for those who want to hand cut dovetails, I give you a lot of credit for your patience during the learning process, your willingness to put up with results that aren't close to perfect (at least for the time you're learning), and I envy your available time for just that one thing. That is what woodworking is all about - satisfaction, relaxation, etc. So, whatever you get satisfaction from go for it.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on May 09, 2015, 02:34 PM
Maybe there is more flexibility with handout. However, I want my finished product to look good also. My hand cut dovetails never looked good and I will admit to really just not wanting to spend the time. There is no skill overlap between hand cut and machine cut dovetails. For me, though, other than learning about dovetails, there has never been an upside to hand cutting dovetails. I love woodworking and creating pieces from wood whether drawers or other items. However, I do love doing other things also, like fishing, golf, fly fishing, hiking, bicycling, reading, watching movies, traveling.  .   . If I spend my time perfecting my hand cut dovetail technique time for other things suffer. So for those who want to hand cut dovetails, I give you a lot of credit for your patience during the learning process, your willingness to put up with results that aren't close to perfect (at least for the time you're learning), and I envy your available time for just that one thing. That is what woodworking is all about - satisfaction, relaxation, etc. So, whatever you get satisfaction from go for it.

Very well stated. That is the beauty of woodworking. Whether by hand or machine, we are all trying to get to those "perfect" pieces. If we just wanted to slap stuff together, we wouldn't be looking at Festool.

Happy woodworking!
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: woodwrights_corner on May 09, 2015, 07:49 PM
I have really enjoyed Ian Kirby's book, THE COMPLETE DOVETAIL.  It is a good reader, an excellent reference source and includes practice exercises.  It will take you as far as you want to go with traditional dovetails.  While it doesn't have specific jig information, once one understands the information in this book it makes transitioning to any jig easier.

A great investment for about $12-15.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: FOGNewbie on May 10, 2015, 09:55 AM
I have really enjoyed Ian Kirby's book, THE COMPLETE DOVETAIL.  It is a good reader, an excellent reference source and includes practice exercises.  It will take you as far as you want to go with traditional dovetails.  While it doesn't have specific jig information, once one understands the information in this book it makes transitioning to any jig easier.

A great investment for about $12-15.

Good to know. I just got that book. Working on two Krenov books, then I plan on reading that. The book is also part of a package Popular Woodworking is offering. I linked it in an earlier post in this thread.
Title: Re: Advice sought on learning dovetails
Post by: Holmz on May 27, 2015, 07:25 PM
If you have the time to do it by hand, then I think it is worth trying.

In theory it seems possible to do the pins with a machine and the tails by hand.

So knowing and understanding both does not seem like wasted effort.