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If You Haven’t Tried Full-blind Dovetails, It’s Time

If You Haven’t Tried Full-blind Dovetails, It’s Time

  When beginning woodworkers rank the difficulty of the different dovetail joints, they usually think of the through-dovetail as the “bunny slope.” The half-blind dovetail is the “expert slope” – perhaps a blue or a black trail if you are a snow skier. So what’s the full-blind dovetail? Or the secret-mitered dovetail? Throwing yourself off a cliff without a parachute? In my view, the through-dovetail is actually the most difficult […]

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Read Your Own Blog, Dummy

Read Your Own Blog, Dummy

The alway-eagle-eyed Jeff Burks pointed out that I had already found an earlier reference to using a bow saw to saw out dovetail waste to the one I posted this morning. Back in 2010, I mentioned that Charles Holtzapffel explains the technique in “Turning and Mechanical Manipulation…” (1856). Holtzapffel writes: The wood between the dovetail pins is generally cut out with the bow or turning saw, leaving the space as […]

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Sawing Out Dovetail Waste

Sawing Out Dovetail Waste

When I teach dovetailing to a class, one of the common questions is why I saw out the majority of the waste between the tails and pins, instead of chopping with a chisel. The simple answer is: That’s how I learned to do it, I’m fast at it and coping saws are easier to sharpen than chisels (the last part is a bit of a joke, by the way). There’s […]

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Defective Dovetail Diagnosis

Defective Dovetail Diagnosis

When I teach woodworking, most of my job is diagnosing defective dovetails. Tail walls that are not 90°. Floors of pin and tail boards that have lumps aplenty. My diagnosis tools are my sensitive fingers, a small square and my eyes. But in some situations, all of those tools fail. When cutting dovetails with skinny … Read more »

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Dovetails of 472 Flavors

Dovetails of 472 Flavors

If you think there are hard-and-fast rules about designing dovetails, don’t read any further. You’ll get an ulcer. North Carolina woodworker Mark Firley has collected a set of 472 photos of dovetails on antiques that he has collected in his travels all over the United States. Sift through this set, and you can find almost … Read more »

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Dovetails with Help from the Drill Press

Dovetails with Help from the Drill Press

When I make a lot of half-blind dovetails, I’ll use a drill press to help bore out the waste between the pins. The video below shows how I do. Some caveats to consider before you try to cram your boot between my buttocks via a comment below: 1. Ya, I use machines at times to … Read more »

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On Symmetry and Screwing Up

On Symmetry and Screwing Up

In the world of design, you read a lot about the acceptance or rejection of symmetry. Wait, wait. Don’t go away. This blog entry, by the way, has to do with Audrey Hepburn’s gorgeous face. You can reject symmetry in design based on the fact that human beings are decidedly not symmetrical. A perfectly symmetrical Continue reading»

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