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Thread: Kudos to David Barron and his magnetic dovetail guides

  1. #1
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    Kudos to David Barron and his magnetic dovetail guides

    I have searched this forum for posts about David Barron, (http://www.davidbarronfurniture.co.uk) and have found very few. I'm passing this along simply because I enjoy his videos on YouTube very much, and have just recently purchased two of his magnetic dovetail guides.

    First, my purchase experience was extremely pleasant. David and I communicated by e-mail, he let me know full price, and I made payment with PayPal. On receipt of payment, David sent a personal confirming e-mail letting me know how long I should anticipate shipping to take between England and my home in Florida. He estimated up to 12 days; the guides arrived in 10.

    Packaging for mailing was superior. Above and beyond the protection required. Additionally, David included a brief personally hand-written thank-you note.

    The guides, themselves, exceeded my expectations. I anticipated they would be well-made; they are simply outstanding. Precision cut aluminum that appears to be aircraft grade. I am delighted with their heft, balance, fit and function.

    I'm interested to learn whether any other SMC folk have used the guides. They will be an integral part of my first foray into hand-cut dovetails, and I am looking forward to the process. Whether I prove proficient over time is a subject for another post. My desire at this point is simply to give David a strong recommendation in terms of his dedication to his craft, and his commitment to exceeding his customers' expectations.

    Best regards,

    John

  2. #2
    I have been drooling over many of his tools, but shipping costs have kept me from pulling the trigger- not that they aren't worth it, just a mental thing that I need to get over.

  3. I also purchased one of David's guides. Before getting it, my dovetails looked like a hack had done them. After watching David's techniques and using his guide, they are pretty respectable now. I still need practice, but at least they look like dovetails now instead of chunks of wood and gaping slots.
    Steven

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven J Corpstein View Post
    instead of chunks of wood and gaping slots.
    Hey, you're describing my best efforts there.
    This is why God invented Crown molding and the mitered, half blind dovetail.

    Lee Valley has a similar system available, without the hefty shipping costs.
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/pag...18&cat=1,42884
    Last edited by Jim Matthews; 05-20-2014 at 7:00 AM.

  5. #5
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    I'm a believer...

    Lee Valley has a similar system available, without the hefty shipping costs.
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/pag...18&cat=1,42884[/QUOTE]


    While I am a strong advocate of Rob Lee and Lee Valley's products. David Barron's dovetail guides are a superior product in this case. I have several of them.

    In the past I cut my dovetails freehand with good results, but every now and then I would mis-cut one... sometimes ruining a drawer made of expensive material. Sure, there are ways of repairing such mistakes, but I would always know the repairs were there.

    David Barron's guide and use of a Jananese dovetail saw may have converted me. For now, I have hung up my $300 western dovetail saw. My dovetails are now more consistent and often cleaner.

    Even with the moderate shipping costs, the price of the products is still justified.


    Just one man's opinion,

    Scott in Montana

  6. #6
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    It's a fair assessment.

    Have you compared them, side by each?
    I found the Lee Valley clamp design too fiddly,
    and used it freehand as DB shows his in use.

    What keeps them from shifting laterally, when in use?

    Once I got my backsaws to cut straight, this became less a requirement for me
    but I work in Cherry that cost me less than $2.50 per board foot - mistakes aren't so costly.

    Have you seen Jeff Miller's tenon cutting jig?
    If that could be adapted to cut on a skew, it would be handy.


  7. #7
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    Let this be our little secret but those jigs work just as good with a western backsaw as they do with jap saws.
    Sent from the bathtub on my Samsung Galaxy(C)S5 with waterproof Lifeproof Case(C), and spell check turned off!

  8. #8
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    Those are clean and idiot proof I suppose, but where's the fun in that? ;-)

    Seriously. I favor the workmanship of risk in most woodowrking operations. Process is important. You can drive to the store or walk. Walking is slower, but you are more likely to meet a friend on the street or be invited up to a porch for a lemonade or to smell some flowers and so on. A less jigged approach also lets in more room for hand and happy accidents.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    Have you seen Jeff Miller's tenon cutting jig?
    If that could be adapted to cut on a skew, it would be handy.
    There are jigs and then there are JIGS. What is with this? May be I am too idealistic about woodworking with hand tools, but surely this way over the top!

    Jigs are helpful, David Barron's is one example. They give that little help to get things perfect, especially when working in expensive materials or if you are honing your skill. It does not detach you from the process completely; there is still technique. I am a novice and this would allow me perfect tenons, but with zero sense of achievement.

    Seems like you would need a lot paraphernalia for this jig, various spacers etc.

    I am starting to rant, I am sorry. I will be quiet.
    Last edited by Richard Krushner; 05-20-2014 at 4:24 PM.
    http://wudumann.blogspot.co.uk​

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Hughto View Post
    Seriously. I favor the workmanship of risk in most woodowrking operations.
    Agree, it also allows you to focus more on design and less on execution. The combination of variation and better design makes furniture that's got its own life.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Hughto View Post
    Those are clean and idiot proof I suppose, but where's the fun in that? ;-)

    Seriously. I favor the workmanship of risk in most woodowrking operations. Process is important. You can drive to the store or walk. Walking is slower, but you are more likely to meet a friend on the street or be invited up to a porch for a lemonade or to smell some flowers and so on. A less jigged approach also lets in more room for hand and happy accidents.
    Totally agreed. If one prefers perfect dovetails, why not go with a router and dovetail jig? Leigh jigs and Keller dovetail jigs work very well and I use them when making cabinets with lots of drawers.

    David is a good teacher and sells some very nice accessories; his dovetail guides, however, aren't something I would recommend for a beginner. I would rather suggest a beginner take a hands-on dovetail joint class and learn to how to saw straight and plumb.

    Simon

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon MacGowen View Post
    Totally agreed. If one prefers perfect dovetails, why not go with a router and dovetail jig? Leigh jigs and Keller dovetail jigs work very well and I use them when making cabinets with lots of drawers.

    David is a good teacher and sells some very nice accessories; his dovetail guides, however, aren't something I would recommend for a beginner. I would rather suggest a beginner take a hands-on dovetail joint class and learn to how to saw straight and plumb.

    Simon
    In a world of accepted mediocrity, craftsmanship is endangered. We should be doing anything we can to encourage a next generation of people who strive to do their best.

    Many people give up trying to hand cut dovetails out of sheer frustration. I see nothing wrong with jigs such as David Barron's. They lower the frustration level while building correct muscle memory. They support a "can do" attitude. Do we want people to succeed or quit in frustration? I wish I had started with a jig such as this.

    David Charlesworth has said that he has poor sawing technique and therefore uses jigs and his bandsaw to cut his dovetails. Should his craftsmanship be questioned?

    Jigs are appropriate at all levels IMHO.


    Scott in Montana

  13. #13
    Personally, I'd like to see people gain experience first (not quit or succeed) and then see if they need gadgets.

  14. #14
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    Not ranting, at all.

    Jeff Miller both teaches noobs like myself and makes lots of furniture based on the same plans.
    He'll use power tools when it's suited, and hand tools when they're faster.

    This jig was invented when he needed to cut something on the order of 40 tenons, the same size for a chair project
    and didn't want to do it on a bandsaw or tablesaw. (The way I heard it, the machines were engaged in other procedures in his small shop.)

    This jig appeals to me in it's elemental approach to sawing straight.

    I use a miter "box" and it operates on a similar principle.
    There are some procedures that I do so infrequently that mastery is elusive.

    A jig like this bridges the gap between my intention and my meager skills,
    by eliminating one variable.

  15. #15
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    Magnetic dovetail guides you say, I do a lot of work in pine, not ironwood. I don't see the benefit. JK

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