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How to Cut Dovetail Joints by Hand  


I was randomly surfing the net and found this short YouTube video by John Bullar of Furniture & Cabinet Making magazine on cutting dovetails. And Wow! He's using a Gramercy Tools dovetail saw.

I like to think the reason he can work so fast and so well is because the Gramercy Tools dovetail saw is such a great saw but of course the secret is really good technique and lots of practice that develops real skill. Our saw might help but best way of becoming a better woodworker than you are now is to practice, and by practicing good technique you will do great work no matter what tools you have at hand.
(Note: I haven't figured out how to set the embedded YouTube code to play at lower resolution to start. - I need more practice and skill with this blog stuff. If the video plays jerkily, please lower the resolution to 360 using the option at the bottom of the embedded screen. )

Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques
Comments: 5
04/16/2010Tico Vogt
Thanks for posting the video. My comment is that he does all the required step very quickly, and as he has done it a lot, is accurate. I notice that he uses only about 3" of the middle section of the saw blade and his sawing motion is rather jerky(a separate issue from the video quality). One or two full length strokes with a quality saw like yours would get to the baseline in the same amount of time, or faster, and the less back and forth motion would be increase accuracy.
Of course, he probably went into overdrive to get all the information into a short video segment, but it gives the impression that sawing is a frantic activity when it really isn't.
04/20/2010junior Brake 
quite possibly the worse dovetail video I have seen. following his collection of bad techniques will guarantee gappy dovetails. but man he sure has some nice tools. I really like the nice polished sides of his dovetail saw. and he uses a nice lignum mallet. he also has a nice chest of tools behind him.
technique wise, I don't know where to start with what he's doing wrong, but I guess anyone who has a camera can make a how to video, dosen't make him right.
The video shows what happens when you get fluency with your tools. Contrary to your speculation the result isn't "Gappy" and while his technique has no safely net the only real argument I would have with his method is:
He uses a rip saw to cut his shoulders and he gets a few splinters. I think the shoulder line should be chiseled first to create a crisp line.
04/27/2010Lee Laird 
Very obvious he has cut dovetails hundreds, if not thousands of times. I find the most interesting point where he utilizes a tail as the outside most portion of both edges of the board. I've always made my dovetails with pins encompassing the tails. Always good to know multiple ways of accomplishing a task. His way certainly has a different look than what I'm used to.
Thanks for this video, skilfull craftsman, i would have one notice, as usual with this videos, the wood used is some of pine, which compress and make adustment easy, it's harder to make crisp dovtail on <hardwood, No?
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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