Thursday, 3 February 2011

Is My Way Of Producing Them The Dovetail Process From Hell...

This is a post regarding the way I create dovetail joints. Please don’t get the idea that I created it because I believe my way of doing this deed is the be-all and end-all way of creating dovetails. It is so far from that, you can’t imagine.

I started to search out ways of creating dovetails about four years ago. I paid a years membership at Fine Woodworking just so I could view the dovetailing demonstrations given by Steve Scott, Gary Rogowski, Christian Becksvoort, Matt Kenney and Andy Rae, to name but a few. I probably watched the videos Keith Cruickshank shot of Craig Vandall Stevens demonstrating his way of producing dovetails fifty times if I watched them once. You also can’t mention dovetailing demonstrations without putting Chris Schwarz in the same sentence and I have jumped on anything and everything he has ever had to say on the subject.

I tried them all and always found a problem in my results. I then analyzed each step in their different approaches and took what best worked for me. I then started to analyze what didn’t work well for me as well, looking for the areas that seem to get me into trouble.

I mainly came up with one major problem following the way of each master and that problem can be summed up in the name of one tool – the mallet.

No matter what I did or how I did it, when I whacked the chisel with a mallet, lightly, heavily, quickly, or using slow motion, something moved. Most often it was the guide board, which quickly threw my alignment out. One day I had had enough and I left my mallet in the cabinet, going at it with just raw muscle power. Once I did that, I had the thing beat, or at least I think I might have it beat.

Which brings me to this post.

If this post helps someone, it’s a bonus, as I enjoy nothing more than helping someone else (I’m going to post about this one day). My reason for creating it, though, is through pure selfishness. I honestly don’t know if I’m missing something or if I could do something better at this point. It is one of those, "Can't see the forest for the trees", deals. I am hoping that one or more of you knowledgeable gents or ladies will spare me a moment of your time and comment on where you think things could be improved. It would be something I would be truly grateful for.

The image below is just a link. Click on it and download a PDF file that displays text and images of the step-by-step process I use for producing dovetails.

Have a run through and let me know what you think.