Hand Tools Archive

A dovetail sawing aid *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.

While a few just look at the side of a drawer and commence sawing the pins or tails, depending on what one does first, it is more common to mark the pins or tails and use the marks to guide the saw kerfs as shown in the first picture. Drawing all these lines is a time consuming task.

We have a lot of small box makers in our area. Apparently they sell well at the craft shows. Recently I encountered two of these makers at separate venues demonstrating their box making. Like me, they were each tails first practitioners. In spite of the fact these people cut dovetails daily to assemble their boxes, which should have kept them in practice, they used a sawing aid I had never seen used by any furniture maker.

The aid was a block of wood that engaged the top of the board to be sawed. It was used to align the saw at the saw mark perpendicular to the face of the board. After the kerf is started the block is removed and the sawing down the guide line continued. Sawing perpendicular to the board is a task I had never found daunting. Never-the- less this sawing aid stuck in my mind in spite of the fact it seemed to offer no benefit to me.

While sawing the dovetails for a carcass I recalled this aid as I was tediously marking out the dovetails. With the slight modification of angling its end about 14 degrees it could aid me by eliminating the need to draw all those saw guide lines. All that is needed is a scribe line to establish the depth of the dovetail and a small mark on the top edge of the board to indicate the position of the saw kerf. The guide block is positioned at the mark defining the tail and the saw aligned with the angled end of the block. My LN saw saws in whatever direction it starts so after a couple of strokes of the saw I remove the guide block and continue sawing down to the scribe line. The time saving was significant.

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