Workshop Tip: Relief Cut Makes it Easy to Chop Out Dovetail Waste
The kerf left by a Western-style handsaw, located in the center of the dovetail waste, makes it easier to chop out between narrow pins.
When hand-cutting dovetails with narrow pins, it can be difficult to chop out the waste between the tails. It’s much easier, however, if I first make a relief cut down the center of the waste. I use a Japanese pullsaw for my main cuts, but I make the relief cut with a Western-style push saw, which leaves a wider kerf. The extra space gives the waste material somewhere to go, letting me free big chips simply by chopping near the shoulder line. The chips pop out easily and the chisel doesn’t want to dive toward the shoulder. Once I’m halfway through the thickness, I make a final chisel cut right at the shoulder, and then flip the workpiece and work from the other side.
—Michael Winiarski, Bayside, N.Y.
Illustrations by Dan Thornton
From Fine Woodworking issue #276