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Furnituremaker Stephen Hammer often uses this simple bandsaw jig to hold his tail boards at the proper angle while sawing them out on the bandsaw.
Back in Fine Woodworking #219, furnituremaker Stephen Hammer outlined his process for producing Half-Blind Dovetails in Half the Time. Hammer cuts his tails on the bandsaw using a simple angled jig that rests against the machine’s fence, producing a perfect 1:6 dovetail angle. He makes all of his defining cuts and then hogs out the waste before turning his attention to the pins. Hammer cut his half-blind pins with the assistance of a router in the article, but for a subsequent Video Workshop series, he used his tablesaw in combination with a shopmade sled.
It got me thinking–why not cut the pin boards at the bandsaw as well? Of course, you could go through the trouble of angling the bandsaw’s table but I thought it might be simple to construct a small ramp set to the same 1:6 angle I cut my tails at. The ramp can be used for both angle cuts, took all of 30 minutes to build, and can be used as long as it holds out. Meaning, there’s no need to toss it in the trash after you finish your project.
That said, I’m not tossing away my traditional dovetail saw just yet. I still enjoy cutting joinery by hand but, for larger projects requiring multiple drawers, this little ramp jig really speeds things up.
My first experimental cuts were executed early this morning and the fit isn’t half bad. With a bit more practice, I’m confident this technique will yield pin-after-pin, for years to come.
I thought that perhaps I could conceive of a ramped jig that would enable me to cut the mating pins at the bandsaw as well. It was constructed using a few plywood scraps and has a simple hardwood fence along one side.
In this closeup, you'll notice the triangular support blocks that angle the ramp.
And here it is in operation, making the first set of angled pin cuts. NOTE: this method really only works with dovetails with a symmetrical layout.
To make the opposing angle cuts, I simply rotate the jig 180-degrees and make my cuts. NOTE: this method really only works with dovetails with a symmetrical layout.
Here's a shot from a different direction that offers a better view of the "action."
The final fit was pretty close. A few small gaps but overall, not bad for a first attempt using this new method.
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I've used Hammer's combination band and table saw approach to good success. I built a more permanent tablesaw jig using a pair of T nuts to set the left and right angle cuts. I agree you can cut the pins on the bandsaw instead, but what I like about the tablesaw jig is that the flat-bottomed box blade cleans out the waste between pins flush to the line.
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