Hand Cut Dovetails
One of the most beautiful and
striking woodworking joints is the dovetail joint. The dovetail joint is very often
quality woodworking. It is both a structurally strong joint and an aesthetically
Dovetail joints are
often used in the construction of drawers, specifically drawer fronts. You will
also often see
dovetail joinery in
case construction, as it serves to both create a very strong, interlocking joint
and to enhance
Today we have available many different dovetail jigs which enable us to create
quickly and easily.
Most, if not all, of these dovetail jigs involve powered tools. The hand cut
perhaps more time consuming to create, offers unparalleled beauty in that any dovetail
configuration can be
arrived at. Dovetails joints
are composed of pins and tails. In the photo below the tails are horizontally
in a hand cut dovetail clamping jig.
The next step here would be to mark and transfer the tails to the pin board
which is clamped vertically.
Creating dovetails by hand using a dovetail saw, chisels and marking tools, provide
us the flexibility to layout tail and pin spacing which better suits the drawer or case
piece being constructed.
This dovetail jig we have developed below is specifically designed to enable us to
accurately mark and
the hand cut tails to the pin board.
Once the tails have been transferred to the pin board, this same dovetail jig
can be used
to chop out the waste between
the individual pins using the top clamping caul as a guide for the
chisel. This dovetail jig can be easily assembled and provides very good accuracy and precision to
of hand cut dovetails.
Below is a photo of sample dovetail joinery created exclusively with hand tools.
The contrast created with a
lighter tail board and a darker pin board is striking. If this were drawer
construction, the thicker piece can easily
be a drawer front whereas the thinner piece is typically the drawer side. As
mentioned earlier, the spacing and
width of the individual pins and tails can easily be customized to suit the
piece when crafting hand cut dovetails.
Below is a photo with an assortment of hand tools used in the creation of hand
cut dovetails. Typical tools
include layout and marking tools, chisels and a dovetail saw, a mallet,
etc. Laying out and marking are
of utmost importance in creating precision dovetail joints. The careful transfer
of the tails to the pin board
ultimately determine how tight and gap free the dovetail joint will be.
More information about this subject is available in our
Dovetail Jig Plan