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Quick dovetail layout *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Quick dovetail layout

I have cut about a half day out of building a drawer. Efficient marking where to saw tails/pins has been a significant time saver.

The aesthetic goal in dovetails is an attractive spacing, a uniform spacing and uniform size. Much variance in these variables will be noticeable. Some variation in angle never gets noticed without measuring. So, how to quickly achieve layout on a set of drawers underway?

Drawer sides are nailed together and fitted to the opening. Then the tail depths are marked as shown in Picture 1.

It saves time to have two marking gages. The tails at the drawer front are made 9/16” long and the tails at the rear as long as the drawer side thickness.

The approach depends on a marking gage shown in Picture 2.

The gap between the plastic and the end of the wood is used to mark the tail spacing from the top and bottom of the front of the drawer side assembly as shown in Picture 3.

The slot is used to mark the tail width, as shown in Picture 4 .

To begin, the location of the saw kerfs for the top and bottom tails are marked with the gage, Picture 3.

Next a divider leg is stuck at the edge of the tail just marked, Picture 5.

The divider is walked across the drawer end to see how many steps it takes to reach the other side. The divider span is adjusted to get the desire number of steps (each step will be a pin location) and an excess past the mark for the saw kerf on the opposite end of the drawer, Picture 6.

This excess needs to be approximately the pin width(slot width of the gage). At each step of the divider the point is pressed enough to leave a small dent, emphasized with black ink in Picture 6.

With the divider left at this setting the divider is walked the opposite direction across the drawer end, Picture 7 .

The result is pairs of dimples equally spaced between the pins locations originally marked at each end of the drawer end. The gage slot is centered on these pairs of dimples and the location for the saw kerf for the tails are marked , Picture 8.

No further marking is necessary. The guide block show in Picture 9 guides the start of the saw. Once started a properly set saw will continue in the direction it starts.

The tails at the rear of the drawer are marked differently, Picture 10. The bottom pin must be above the drawer bottom. The top of the drawer ends at a tail, not a pin as is the case for the front of the drawer.

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