Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guild Of NH Woodworkers Dovetail Demo

The Guild Of New Hampshire Woodworkers Hand Tool group held its October meeting today at the Homestead Woodworking School in Newmarket, NH. The topic was through-dovetails.

The group leader, Dave Anderson, one of the moderators of the Sawmill Creek Neanderthal Haven forum, had emailed me earlier in the week asking if I could do a demo for the meeting, because his other demonstrator had to cancel. He was doing a demo himself, but he likes to have additional demonstrators to show multiple methods.

I was happy to help out, and I'd like to thank Dave for the opportunity. He had been looking over the blog recently after I posted about the Guild Townsend Document Chest project with Al Breed.


Dave gets the meeting started in the School's spacious bench room. There were about a dozen members in attendance.

Dave introduced me and had me go first. Since he said he does tails first and uses a chisel to remove the waste, I did pins first and used a coping saw to remove the waste. This is the same method I detailed in my Portable Toolboxes project.

The resulting joint was pretty ugly, too loose and gappy, which always seems to happen when I'm showing someone how to do it. But while it was an aesthetic failure, it was still a reasonably decent mechanical joint. A little glue to make the wood swell and maybe a little peening as described by Derek Cohen, and it should be solid.

I also used my bench-on-bench, which a number of participants found interesting. It's a great back-saver, bringing the work up to a level where I can stand upright. My back often becomes the limiting factor in my shop time. Too much time stooped over and it gets stiff and sore.


Sawing the pins in the first piece.

Dave did the next one. He had some 1" walnut, much nicer than the white pine I was using. I need to start using cherry for my demos. The harder woods leave such a cleaner, crisper cut.


Dave sets his marking gauge to the thickness of his stock, plus just a hair so the end grain will stand proud for easy cleanup later.


Marking the end of the tail piece all around.


After marking out the tails with a dovetail marker, using a saddle square to carry the lines across the top. He rubs chalk dust in them to make them stand out on the dark wood.


Sawing the tails.



Lightly chiseling a notch in the side for sawing out the waste.



Crosscutting the outside waste.



Using a chisel to remove the waste between the tails. This starts by chiseling down at the baseline...



Followed by chiseling down the engrain to chip it out. When chiseling on the baseline, don't start with too much force on the mallet, because the wedge action of the chisel will drive it back past the line, resulting in a loose joint. Chisel lightly until you establish a good shoulder; then you can use more force.



Paring the outside cuts to clean them up.

Dave clamped the pin board in the vise and laid the tail board on it, then marked out the pins from the tails. Then he repeated the above process for the pins.


Bill Munch tries out the bench-on-bench while Ted Bradshaw watches.

Thanks to Alan Mitchell for letting us use the school. It's a very nice facility, with separate machine and bench rooms. And for members interested in buying Guild shirts and hats, Dick Davis asked me to let everyone know he's handling that now. He's trying to get to all the group meetings to give people the chance to buy them.

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