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Woodworker's Guide to Dovetails

comments (0) April 24th, 2009 in blogs

moscowfield Mark Schofield, managing editor
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Woodworker’s Guide to Dovetails by Ernie Conover
Fox Chapel Publishing, 2009.
$24.95: 168 pp.

I’m sure more tools have been thrown and more tears shed over cutting dovetails than any other aspect of woodworking. Sure, there are quite a few steps involved, and any mistakes are in full view, but the scariest thing is that all your non-woodworking friends instantly judge a piece by the quality of the dovetails — hence the pressure to get them right.

The traditional way is to layout and cut the dovetails by hand whether they are through dovetails, half-blind dovetails, or full-blind dovetails. Conover guides you through the process of cutting and fitting all three types with the aid of his own drawings and photos.

However, even if you’re an expert with a saw and a chisel, the process is fairly slow, and most woodworker’s hand-tool skills are a little shaky. To make the process faster and easier, manufacturers have come up with a bewildering array of jigs to help you cut dovetails with the aid of a router. After giving an overview of machine-cut dovetails, Conover demonstrates the most popular jigs on the market including those from Keller, Leigh, Porter Cable, Woodrat and Akeda.

If you are in the market for dovetail jig, this book will give you a greater in depth comparison of the different makes than you will find in any tool review. Alternatively, if you’ve decided that this is the time to finally master the hand-cut dovetail then you’ll also get plenty of help. The only gap in this book is hybrid methods of cutting dovetails where both power and hand tools are employed. For example you can use a specially ground blade on the tablesaw to cut the pins, while a router can remove the bulk of the waste leaving a chisel to pare to the line.

posted in: blogs, dovetails

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