How to: Precise Bandsawn Dovetails
Four simple jigs create beautiful joints quickly
Synopsis: Cutting dovetails on the bandsaw is a fast and efficient method that yields perfect-fitting joints. Michael Fortune uses four small sleds for the job. These jigs allow him to control the angle of the tails and the cheeks of the pins. The angled jigs present the tail and pin boards to the blade and a zero-clearance kerf in each jig makes it easy to locate cuts accurately. Fortune cuts all the tail boards at once, so he only lays out the tails on the top board. The pin boards are cut separately.
There must be dozens of ways to cut dovetails, but my favorite is to cut both the tails and the pins with my bandsaw. It’s easy to control the angle of both parts and, because the bandsaw blade is as thin as many backsaw blades, there are few limitations to the tail’s slope angle, the size of the tails and pins, and their spacing. What’s more, it’s fast and efficient.
Online extra: Bandsaw Tips: How to eliminate drift from your cuts – Michael Fortune’s bandsaw jigs make quick work of dovetails (p. 42), but for them to function properly, the bandsaw table must be perfectly aligned to the blade. Fortune shows you how to find and fix any misalignments that could cause problems.
14-in. bandsaw to cut dovetails. I bought this machine 44 years ago, and it’s still all I really need for joinery. In addition to the saw, I use four jigs. Two of the jigs are used to cut the tails, and the other two to cut the pins. This is a wonderfully simple and accurate method for cutting dovetails.
Sleds guarantee accurate cuts
Dovetail joinery works because the angled tails fit into mating angled sockets in the pin board. Cutting the…