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Thread: cutting dovetails

  1. #1

    cutting dovetails

    I've used my Porter Cable 12" dovetail jig with good results but now I want to make a pennsylvania blanket chest that requires more than 12"s of dovetails. Should I spend $600 for an Omni Jig or is hand cutting dovetails something I might do without a couple of years of practice and get good quality dovetails. If so steer me to what I need to get started. thank you. Barry

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Albuquerque NM
    Posts
    404
    To hand cut good dove tails you will still spend time and money on good saw and chisels, but it is worth the satisfaction. I think a few weeks of practice can get you there, but it is not overnight
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ellsworth, Maine
    Posts
    1,444
    If you want quality hand cut dovetails you will need good quality hand tools. You'll need a dovetail saw of some sort. I go back and forth between liking a Dozuki saw or a Western Style Backsaw. A good saw for a good price is the Lee Valley Dovetail saw. I have one a really think it's top notch especially given the price. I also have a Lie Nielson and absolutely love it. But it's a bit spendy. You'll also need a decent set of chisels. I have a couple Lie Nielsons' but again they are very spendy. I also like my Two Cherrie's chisels and they hold an edge extremely well. Japanese chisels are also a great option and seems like you never dull 'em. A smoothing plane is also esential as well as some layout tools. A how to video would hurt either to give proper technique. Oh, and most importantly you'll need some sort of sharpening method and tools to get and keep a good edge on all the new toys you just bought. I saw go for the handcut ones as long as you have some patience. I love the proccess and peacefulness of hand-cut dovetails.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Posts
    6,241
    The first thing you need is a small book by Ian Kirby called "The Complete Dovetail". It is the most clear, most succinct, best illustrated description of making every kind of dovetail. He shows them all, and explains what tools are required for each. It also lays out a practice method. It might be worth a try on some poplar before laying out $600 for a jig. Quite a lot of info in that little book for such a small price.

    You will need some practice on scrap to gain some proficiency. You will need a good saw, a marking gauge, some other basic layout tools you may already have, and a decent set of chisels in sharp condition.. The time invested will free you from the tyranny of dovetail jigs and their spendy extrusions and give you an excuse to fill a wall in your shop with a variety of hand saws and chisels of very kind, though this is not essential. By the time you are a hand dovetail master you will surely have spent more on chisels, stones, grinding jigs, marking knives, saws, saw sets, files to sharpen the saws, japanese saws for when you don't feel like sharpening and setting the saws, and other such things than ANY dovetail jig would have cost. But you will then be free of the tyranny of the jigs and their clumsy pins set at regular intervals.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Plainfield, IN
    Posts
    112
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry wines View Post
    I've used my Porter Cable 12" dovetail jig with good results but now I want to make a pennsylvania blanket chest that requires more than 12"s of dovetails. Should I spend $600 for an Omni Jig or is hand cutting dovetails something I might do without a couple of years of practice and get good quality dovetails. If so steer me to what I need to get started. thank you. Barry
    I have the PC 4212. I seem to remember reading that there's a way to clamp the jig to your work to cut dovetails on a piece longer than 12".

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