Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #555260
    Marc-Andre Petit

    Hi everyone,

    First post on the forum, i’ve tried to find the answer by searching and scrolling around but didn’t. So, i decided to ask directly and see if someone could answer me. I’ve start practicing sawing dovetails and I realize that i’m often changing my approach on the pin. Sometime i would cut with my saw parallel to the wood to start the pin and follow the line on the end grain then i would angle it to follow the pin angle. Sometime i would start with the saw already angled. I wonder, what would be the proper way or your favorite method? Do you find one to be more stable or produce better result? I’ve look at many video of Mr. Sellers but it’s hard to see his approach with the camera angle.

    Thank you for sharing your experience!


    Are you talking about the pin or the tail? The tail is the part Paul cuts first. And it makes most sense of your question if you are talking about tails. (If I have this wrong, then I misunderstood the question — sorry!) It can probably be cut both ways, and it is probably a good idea to cut some both ways before settling on your preferred approach. But having tried both a lot, I much prefer to establish my line with my saw plumb and then tilt it to follow the angled tail line down. The most important part of cutting the tail is getting it straight across your board. It is hard enough to cut a line straight across the piece of wood without having the saw tilted at 7 degrees, or whatever angle you have for your tail. But do not cut more than a fraction of a mil before tilting the saw! If you go more than a fraction, it could be clearly visible as a flaw in your tail. Oh, I sort of think Paul often starts with his saw plumb and then tilts it. I think I heard him say that somewhere.

    Jim Thornton

    I was just looking at the Dovetail Box video and it looks like Paul starts with the saw at the angle of the tail. (around the 28 minute mark)


    If you can't afford to do big small things in a big way!

    Marc-Andre Petit

    Thank you for your answers! Effectively, i should have written the tails, sorry for this confusion. I’ve found a video where mr. Sellers cut straight and incline the saw afterward as mention. Nice community here, thanks again!


    I know this isn’t a direct answer to your question, but I wanted to pass this on.

    I was so concerned about my dovetails being perfect that I wasn’t happy, no matter how good I made them. Then I happened across a video or a site somewhere about the history of fine woodworking. The big point I took from it is, don’t worry too much about perfection. The old workers were usually building for quantity. They were great at what they did, but didn’t worry about little imperfections (gaps, chips, etc.) in their dovetails. This can be seen in just about all old furniture if you look close enough. It adds a bit of character, and doesn’t hurt the construction. Just move forward and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.