A Paul Sellers Dovetail Technique – Episode 1

2015-12-02

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Paul shows a pattern he has developed for making accurate, repeatable dovetails on a project that is so consistent that they are interchangeable. It provides a way of getting evenly sized and spaced dovetails. He then cuts his dovetails using the backer piece and uses a cutting gauge and chisel to mark and remove the pin recesses.

38 Comments

  1. Jim Braun on 29 April 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Great video, off to find my socks.

  2. ehisey on 29 April 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Now if Paul has similar tip/trick for perfect pins, then I would be set. The jig is a great for even tails and makes cutting all the tails for a carcass surprisingly fast. Even with making the time required to make the jig, the simplicity in cutting the actual joints more than makes up for any extra time.

  3. Thomas Angle on 29 April 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for the video. I do find dovetails hard to master. This should help quite a bit.

  4. Roger Ayotte on 30 April 2016 at 1:20 am

    Great idea Paul. I can see myself using this technique.

  5. mark cor on 30 April 2016 at 2:20 am

    Thank you! Finally, someone agrees with me that the cutting/marking gauge leaves an ugly line. I have never figured how that line was acceptable in fine woodworking. The only thing good I suppose it says to others woodworkers it was hand cut. The average joe public has no idea and just sees an ugly line and wonders why such a fine piece has a nasty scratch across the board.

  6. Paul Gessler on 30 April 2016 at 3:01 am

    Thanks for another great video Paul! I noticed in this one, you sometimes use just a pencil mark and other times you use the knife-wall technique. For example, when laying out for the template piece, you used the knife-wall on the sacrificial piece but just pencil marks on the end grain of the template. How do you decide between the two methods?

    • Philip Adams on 3 May 2016 at 10:18 am

      Hello Paul,
      Usually, we use a knife mark for across the grain, for either sawing to or cutting to with a chisel. We usually use a pencil when marking with the grain, although this depends on the wood. So, when marking around the pins onto end grain of a more dense wood, like sapele, we would tend to use a knife, particularly as pencil doesn’t show up. There are also exceptions when it makes more sense to use a marking, mortice or cutting gauge.
      Hope that helps.

  7. Kermit Chamberlin on 30 April 2016 at 6:26 am

    Paul, do you account for the change of the width caused by the raising of the jig? Or am I miscalculating?

    Now for the pins!

    • Philip Adams on 3 May 2016 at 10:22 am

      Hello Kermit,
      The dovetails are laid out at the point that you line up with the top of the piece to be dovetailed, then the lines are extended upwards. So there is no change of width. Does that make sense?

  8. Olof Andersson on 30 April 2016 at 8:23 am

    Hello Paul
    Very inspirational indeed.
    When I tried this I struggle each time I have to clamp the template to board.
    So I glued a thin strip of wood 1/8 thick and 1′ wide on each side of the template parallel to the short edge.
    The I just slide up the board to the template and clamp both together in my wise.

    Thanks again for this video !

  9. Dave Deady on 30 April 2016 at 8:33 am

    Warm thanks, again!

  10. Christopher Giardina on 30 April 2016 at 9:16 am

    Would you always use chisels to remove the waste between the dovetails? Wouldn’t a jigsaw be more efficient if you’re cutting dovetails en masse?

    • Philip Adams on 3 May 2016 at 10:35 am

      Hello Christopher,
      For fine work, we would use a chisel. Using a coping saw is not that much faster, and there is a risk of tear-out.

      Paul said that he might use a coping saw for rougher carpentry, but the cuts are consistently finer when done with the chisel.

  11. James Lemaster on 30 April 2016 at 10:35 am

    Just what I needed Paul thanks alot.

  12. larryl49 on 30 April 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Paul, I enjoyed the video, it is a technique I have never seen before, great Idea, looks uncomplicated to do, thanks for explaining the setting out method of the dovetails, What super glue and acellerator do you use,? Once again many thanks. Larry.

  13. Thom Spillane on 30 April 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I’m new to cutting dovetails and this method is going to be a great help in doing so. Along with all the other videos of yours I have been watching and studying. Also I just received your new book and DVD and they will be a great help also.

  14. cembalo8 on 30 April 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks for the video — I cut my first dove tails this week before this video; even if you aren’t doing a production run of 20 drawers, it is a great boon to the process. I have 3 – 5 drawers to make this summer, so I look forward to the pins video as well.

  15. Jaime Gonzalez on 30 April 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Fantastic Paul, thanks. Enjoying your latest book too.

  16. julius on 30 April 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Splendid job. As simple as an effective pattern. Woodworking Art is simpler than we do not think about. But simpleness does not mean easiness.

  17. Albert van Hulzen on 30 April 2016 at 8:17 pm

    That is a great trick Paul. How many joints does the jig make before wears enough to lose accuracy?

    • Jim Braun on 1 May 2016 at 12:51 am

      During the tool cabinet build Paul mentions that what makes the jig last is that his saw has minimal set.

  18. Torvald Håtveit on 30 April 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks!

  19. David Seymour on 30 April 2016 at 9:07 pm

    We are SO lucky to have these outstanding videos. Thank you Paul a thousand times for so generously passing your hard won experience on to the next generation of us. You are single-handedly responsible for my current passion for handtool woodwork – I could watch you all day… and sometimes do!

  20. dicksters on 30 April 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Beautiful, but why no vertical clamps?

  21. James Daly on 1 May 2016 at 9:54 am

    I have been studying various techniques on Internet ,this looks the best for those of use who find there eyesight is letting them down as we age . When is the next part, you are producing some fantastic legacy content that will last for years and will be watched and enjoyed by students and apprentices.you are a star thanks james

  22. windigo on 2 May 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Very helpful video, thanks. Do you have any system while marking up to avoid making basic mistakes like making pins at one end and tails at the other end or finding the inside surface of the prepared boards lies on the outside? The latter may not be important if the surfaces of the boards are the same inside and outside but it could be a problem, especially if the upper border is fashioned. This system means that the board can fit either way up.
    Pencil marks can be sanded out later but do you have a system to ensure errors like these are avoided?

    • Philip Adams on 4 May 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Hello Charles, there is a system we often use. Paul used it in the dovetail caddy series, so you should be able to follow it there.

  23. STEVE MASSIE on 3 May 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Another great and very helpful video, thank you everyone on the team fantastic job as always. I have learned so much from watching these video’s. And I want to put in another plug for the new book and video’s, well worth the price and wait.

    Steve

  24. Kenneth Thompson on 11 May 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Great video. I’ve just discovered the use of super glue for woodworking and here I see more techniques for it’s use! Thanks Paul.

    What rake angle is Paul’s dovetail marking jig? Is it 7 to 1 or so? If so, does he use the same angle for all his dovetails?

    Ken Thompson

    • Philip Adams on 10 January 2017 at 10:22 am

      Hello Ken,
      It is 7:1 and that is the angle Paul uses for all dovetails.
      Thanks, Phil

  25. Glen Harris on 4 August 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks ! Excellent video, the super glue tip was new to me. Teak? Any reason for the choice?

    • Philip Adams on 10 January 2017 at 10:32 am

      Hello Glen,
      It’s Sapele. It is fairly widely available, and Paul often uses it. It is a nice alternative to oak. It is hard and doesn’t compress much.
      Best, Phil

  26. Thomas Hanson on 5 November 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Wouldn’t it be even more accurate to lay out the dovetails on your sacrificial piece to prevent errors transferring the marks?

  27. nbcguy on 12 February 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Not that it matters since this is a technique video, but what species of wood was Paul using?

  28. Selva on 4 August 2020 at 5:46 am

    Works fine here at all quality levels. Could be a temporary network glitch?

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