1. I’ve wondered why Paul doesn’t gang cut his dovetails? I do this routinely because it provides a wider reference edge for squaring the saw cuts, only needs reference lines on one piece, and seems to speed things up somewhat. I’d be curious to know his reasoning.

    1. Harold,
      I should think the jig/guide would be just the ticket for gang cutting.
      If you got one of Roy Underhill’s 24 inch dovetail saws you’d be able to line up a whole stack of box ends for at least three boxes and get’em done in short order. 🙂

      1. Wohoo! Here we go again. Why gang cut something that gives sooo much pleasure. Why not just treasure special time in the shop instead of mass manufacturing. Just my thouhgts on ganging up stuff that then just becomes stuff. The art in all of this is indeed developing skills and getting off the conveyor belt. Ganging up rarely ever works for hand work really so you really have to ask yourself if this is the path you want to go down

        1. I agree fully. It takes all the pleasure out of the dovetailing experience to do it like a machine.

          Some of my friends who build things (build not craft) can’t believe that I take the time and effort to craft dovetails whenever I can.

          The Paul Sellers methods and flourishes make the process easier and much more craftmanlike.

        2. You ask, “why gangcut?” The first reason would be because then you don’t need to use the jig. You have a reference area that’s wide enough to support cutting to a straight line.

          I not only gangcut drawers and boxes, in pairs, I use a speed square for the initial cuts to make sure that they start straight.

          You disparage gangcutting here as being somehow aesthetically impure, but then you recommend a method that ensures all of the dovetails look exactly the same, as if they came off a jig on an assembly line.

          Sorry, but it seems like we’re trying to “have our cake and eat it too” here.

    2. Not having layout lines on the other pieces comes with a cost if things don’t go as precisely and as smoothly as planned. Also when gang cutting you need to make sure all the face sides are towards you so that you saw into them and have all the back sides facing away from you. This is ok for this particular piece, but might not be ok for other cases.

  2. Have never cut dovetails yet, though I’ve seen a zillion of Paul’s demos, so this should be an interesting week. Seems like the aide he made will help me out. Did I miss it? Is this video the side or the top/bottom?

  3. I’d like to know the make and model of that lovely brass backed saw you are using lately in your videos, Paul. I recently found a Spear & Jackson Spearior 52 tenon saw on Ebay coming from your neck of the woods. Should be here any day. I’m looking forward to having a decent saw finally.



  4. What a fantastic jig up for multiple dovetail layouts.
    I’m going to commit this segment to permanent memory bank.
    The Paul Sellers dovetail method , what a great lesson , Thank you and your camera crew too.

  5. Why is the divider made as frame and panel? Wouldn’t a regular board be ok, since it moves in the same direction as a carcass? I would just like to know if there is a specific reason for this. Thank you.

    1. hi Blaz
      Traditionally, the frame and panel design was mainly for economy. There will be quite a large saving by using a plywood panel instead of a solid piece of premium wood.
      frame and Panel also reduces weight if used on a portable object.
      Lastly (I think), There can be a difference in the movement from one board to the next, so the use of a plywood panel helps the minimise the effect of natural wood movement.

  6. Would there be any downside to gluing/ screwing a piece of 1 x 3 to the left edge of the template? If it protruded on the front and back it would seem to work when registered against either edge. Speaking for myself it would reduce slippage when clamping into position.

  7. Great video. That’s a process – but the beautiful, accurate result shows the benefit to it. I’m going to try it. I love Paul’s one-liners:
    “don’t imagine anything more important really . . . than a tool cupboard.”
    The other that is now regularly heard in my workshop — even though I’m the only one who hears it — is:
    “it’s not what you make, it’s how you make it”
    Thank you Paul, I’m 40 and I wish I’d learned everything you’ve taught me years ago, but I probably wouldn’t have had the patience until now. Something about middle age I guess. You’ve opened up a new old-world to me that I’ll enjoy for another 40 years I hope and certainly pass on to my children.

    1. No choosing really, just picked for looks more than anything. Sapele is quite the stablest of woods and as such requires little consideration beyond that. As a boy it was considered a cheapo wood, but when mahogany ran out of existence it took a leading role. It is good for outdoor use too. If I remember I will show some massive 18 foot tall by 8 foot wide ones paired in an entryway to the castle. Lasts longer than oak outdoors and stays true.

      1. I’m building a set of kitchen cabinets. Since I am a bit older than Paul (a few months actually), I was thinking of Sapele, but may go with Cherry instead.

        I fear that a the Sapele takes more aerobic effort to flatten than the Cherry.

        Maybe door frames from Cherry and panels from Sapele.

        Sapele is just gorgeous and my favorite wood for almost all my projects.

  8. I’m not sure why you would need interchangeable boards at all. But this method is fantastic, I’ll use it no matter how many dovetails I need. It ensures perfect consistency and it saves a lot of time – you don’t need to lay out the dovetails. You just mark the depth, align the jig and there you go!
    I used it already on a difficult dovetail in 4cm thick ash and It’s excellent – well worth the 20 minutes spent making the jig. In fact I made a similar jig for the pins (you need two of those).
    Thanks, Paul, for sharing this!

  9. Maybe I missed it, but how did he come up with the number 8 when deciding the number of tails? Was that just a random number or is there a standard formula for figuring out the number of tails used?

  10. What is the point of having the top and bottom pieces dead to length to begin with ? Couldn’t one make the tails slightly proud, and pare/plane them after assembly or glueing up ? In fact with such a template the ends of the top and bottom pieces don’t even need to be square… Same with the side pieces really, although having their ends square will make marking the pins easier.

    In addition to saving on some precision endgrain planing, wouldn’t keeping the tails and pins slightly proud till glue-up help limit accidental damage to them (or more precisely their final aspect), that may occur during or inbetween the coming dry runs ?

    1. Hello Christian,
      Preparing your stock to a high degree of accuracy before hand is what helps you to get the carcass as a whole square and parallel. It will also be difficult to ensure accurate layout if you don’t have a clear reference point on the surfaces.
      Or am I misunderstanding you?

    1. Hello Andrew,
      I would encourage you not to do too much to cover things up too much. You can sometimes use a thin sliver of wood to fit into large gaps, but would only recommend doing this in certain circumstances. Sometimes it’s best to see it as a learning experience.

      I don’t think it takes 40 years to get nice tight dovetails, more like 10+ boxes I’d say (-:
      All the best

  11. I’m reviewing a couple projects to reinforce my memory. I love this technique for dovetails. I use it almost all the time now if I want the same perfect spacing on a project, so easy to do. Sometime I do just free hand them too, depending on what I am doing. I keep all my templets for future use too.

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