Dovetail Saw

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  • #685627
    Mark68
    Participant

    I have a Veritas Dovetail saw (14 TPI):

    http://www.axminstertools.com/veritas-dovetail-saw-210923

    But I am wondering if I should get something like 15 TPI with a smaller blade length because when I cut dovetails, the above saw seems a little too large to me (which might be down to my inexperience).

    Is it a certainty that the smaller the dovetail saw the easier the cut, or do you think the above saw is more than up to the job?

    EDIT: I realise this might be subjective, but I’d be interested in the thoughts of those more experienced than myself.

    Thank all.

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."

    #685658
    Mark68
    Participant

    Ultimately, I am wondering if I can get a finer more precise cut.

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."

    #685669
    Austin Conner
    Participant

    Nothing wrong with that Veritas saw, I’ve used them regularly.

    Your other option is a Gent saw if you want something smaller.

    #685692
    Mark68
    Participant

    Ok thanks for the advice Austin.

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."

    #685694
    sanford
    Participant

    Here is my experience, for what it is worth. If you have the money, there is nothing wrong with having several saws — it is fun and instructive to see how each one behaves. But although I have not used the Veritas dovetail saw, I know people tend to like it fine. You probably need to practice more with it. Some of us (read me!) need many of hours of pure practice till we can saw straight and smooth, whether dovetails or anything else. In my case we are talking about hundreds of hours of pure practice before I finally cut reasonably well and stopped blaming my saws. I use the Lie Nielsen dovetail which ( I just looked it up) has 15 teeth per inch and 10 inch long b lade. The Veritas is 14 TPI and 9 inch blade I believe.

    That said, it is possible the veritas can be improved. I have a veritas tenon saw which was not very good out of the the box. It cut very very slowly. So slowly that it was very difficult to keep to my line. I gave up on it and bought an old Disston online. I was learning to sharpen and had pretty good luck sharpening that Disston. It was like night (the Veritas) and day (the Disston) when cutting tenons. Since then I have reshaped the teeth on the Veritas and it cuts much better. Of course, since I had the Disston, I was pretty brave about doing significant reshaping on the Veritas.

    Austin suggested the possibility of a gents saw. I have cut dovetails with a gents saw and it works fine for very thin stock. I have used it for tiny dovetails on 1/4 inch stock. Though someone else might be more experienced, I am not sure it is the way to go for 3/4 inch stock, say.

    #685698
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    Though not that experienced as a woodworker, I’ve accumulated a few saws over the years. As for dovetail saws there are: a Pax 1776 (pistol grip), a Veritas 14 ppi, a Pax small Gent’s saw (infinite PPI), Veritas pull dovetail saw, and finally the Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw (15 ppi but with 90 degrees’ rake angle). When starting out I believed my poor sawing would improve by smaller saws with more teeth. A kind sales person advised me towards the opposite approach, but not taking him up on it, I had to learn from experience. The longer blade and a more aggressive rake of the Lie-Nielsen ultimately led to dovetails that at least not don’t rattle.

    The sole exception to the above is crosscutting. The Veritas 9 tpi (rake angle 78 degrees, I think) tenon saw is a lot slower than the Lie-Nielsen carcass saw, but I achieve better results, i.e. less time is spent with the shooting plane.

    In summary I think longer and taller blades make it easier to notice when deviations start to occur. (A Bad Axe cross cut tenon saw is very high on the wish list)

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    #685702
    Mark68
    Participant

    Thanks all for the advice, much appreciated.

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."

    #687740
    Matthew Newman
    Participant

    I made the saw in the attached picture earlier this year mostly just for fun and to see if I could do it. It has become by far my favorite saw to use for small things. It’s a 9″ saw only about 1.5″ depth of cut, blade is 0.015″ thick and it’s 16 PPI rip cut (I made it from a kit from Blackburn Tools http://www.blackburntools.com/new-tools/new-saws-and-related/slotted-back-saw-kits/index.html if you are interested though it is quite a bit of work).

    I’ve gotten a lot better at cutting dovetails having previously used a tenon saw and Crown gents saw. I think the thinner blade and finer cut have helped (though sharpening 16ppi is not the easiest), also the shallower depth of cut vs the tenon saw improved control and I think the pistol styled grip made it easier to be consistent compared to the the gents saw.

    So to kind of summarize the smaller saw helped me a lot with dovetails.

    -Matt

    #687792
    Roberto Fischer
    Participant

    Like sanford, it took me reshaping an old saw to realize how my veritas dovetail saw was bad out of the box. It was pretty badly set, curving a ton to one side, jamming in a curved cut. I fixed the veritas and it’s great now. I even tossed its handle and made one to fit my hands, which much smaller than any saw handle I have.

    If you have a saw you know cuts correctly, you can diagnose problems with this saw. Maybe removing some set, changing the rake to be more or less aggressive… These are things you can do without having to spend on a new saw.

    #687825
    Mark68
    Participant

    I’ve recently worked on the teeth as Paul teaches, and it’s not cutting a lot better.

    "Sawdust? I think you'll find that's man-glitter."

    #706875
    Andrew Sinclair
    Participant

    I think you could consider stoning the two sides of this errant Veritas dovetail saw. IF the problem is too much set that can help a lot, by reducing it.

    It aslo cleans burrs on the outside edges of teeth that may have been left from manufacture or your own filing, thereby reducing ripping on the outcut. Worth remembering the outcut side should always be the less seen side of your piece btw, as Paul teaches.

    Too much set results in an overwide kerf, which gives the sawplate space to jiggle from side to side and make the cut wander. It also will lead to slower cutting, which also decreases accuracy and steaightness of ripping.

    To stone you just get a fine sharpening stone and run it from heel to toe along the side of the teeth and the last 5mm of the saw plate. Lie the plate flat on a bench, push the stone flat down on it, and make one or two passes. Minimise the amount of plate you touch as it can scratch, and use light machine oil to lubricate. You could put a sheet of paper on the plate if youre worried, I dont bother. Do this equally on both sides, or if your cut always veers one way do more stoning on that side (veers to right => stone right). Test the saw (by sawing!) every couple of passes, as you don’t want to take too much set off as dovetail saws are a PITA to reset.

    It’s meant to be a good saw, you should be able to get it working with perseverence, and you’ll learn more and be a better woodworker for it, compared to just plunking down dollars for a new saw.

    Actually one caveat here is that 14 tpi is good for dovetails down to about 3/8” (10mm) thick timber. That’s because each tooth is a touch over 1/16” and you want at least 6 teeth in your workpiece. If you’re working in 1/4” thick timber … yes, you probably need a finer saw, maybe a 20 tpi gents.

    Good luck!

    • This reply was modified 8 months ago by Andrew Sinclair. Reason: fat finger typos
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