My first set was pretty respectable. Of course, I spent a long time learning to saw for lots of other things before it ever occurred to me to tackle dovetails.
My second set was bad enough that I cut them off and made the box in question one set of joinery smaller.
instead of grading the fit/finish of the dovetails, how about grading them on following all of the proper steps and procedures properly. i know a lot of us, myself included, didn't have the best looking dovetails on our first few attempts. that comes with practice. you should create a list of all of the proper steps when hand cutting and grade them on their technique and ability to follow the steps properly. for example, when marking the cutlines with a marking gauge make sure they set the depth properly and that the gauge is set up correctly. when sawing, make sure they are gripping the tool correctly and cutting at the correct angle. if they follow the steps properly every time, the fit and finish will come with practice. some will be better on their first set than others, but all will look good in time if they consistently follow the procedures. i think that is a more important focus for someone first learning the technique.
Jason sounds like a good teacher or coach - his focus is on the fundamentals (scales, chords, throwing, catching). I may look at my own work with the same idea - "at what step could I have improved my technique?"
Originally Posted by jason thigpen
I think this is a great focus, on technique over outcome. With good technique, good outcomes will eventually result. If you spend your time focusing on outcome without focusing on technique, you end up spending a lot of time frustratingly wondering why something didn't work, and possibly even practicing "wrong" repeatedly, getting poor results and maybe even learning some bad habits that need to be unlearned. I see this at work a lot - people frustrated because something came out wrong without stopping to analyze why it came out wrong to prevent it from happening again and learning to do it right. There's a tendency some folks have to think if they just "try harder" it'll work out. That trite cliche about "working smarter, not harder" almost applies here.
Some of my best teachers used this concept to - if I showed my work and proved that I understood the concepts, I might not get marked down too much for making a simple error in say arithmetic or something; the important thing was that I understood what I was doing and why - not that I had the right answer from the back of the book, but no idea how I got there - I might not get it when the path to get there or the inputs I started with changed slightly, if I didn't really understand the process.
Last edited by Joshua Pierce; 02-26-2012 at 10:27 AM.