Hand cut dovetails - Paul Sellers - Router Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Default Hand cut dovetails - Paul Sellers

I came across a video series from Paul Sellers where he makes a box 100% using hand tools. The First video is where he cuts all the dovetails and fits the 4 pieces together. He does all 4 joints in in under 10 minutes. I was blown away. It was an eye opening experience for me.

Paul Sellers dovetail video

In another video, he does one with 4 dovetails in the joint, and it is done in 2 minutes max.

The way he does it makes perfect sense and it does not look all that difficult to do.

And the way he presents it, it is very easy to understand how and why he does it.

I want to be like Paul Sellers when I grow up. He is a true artisan.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 01:04 PM
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Chris, have you seen his videos on building a work bench with hand tools? He is truly an "old style" artisan with hand tools. I really like his "poor man's router".

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 01:46 PM
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Default I can't cope...

I wonder how good they are up-close. When he cuts the floor of the cut-outs, if I may call it that, with his coping saw, the finish looks very uneven - a router jig would do a nicer job by far. Any hand-tool craftsman would chisel a better finish there, purely my opinion.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
Chris, have you seen his videos on building a work bench with hand tools? He is truly an "old style" artisan with hand tools. I really like his "poor man's router".
Yes, I watched them all. But they stopped right just before the part where he puts it all together. I stayed up way too late that night.

He makes the hand cut mortise and tenon process very understandable and straightforward too.

Doing more by hand should help me control my "sawdust everywhere" problem too.

I have a #5 plane I got at an antiques shop. I think I will learn how to use it. I think I'll get a #4 sized plane as well. Home Depot carrys "Buck" hand planes that have gotten good reviews. Their 9" plane is about $29; perfect for a chrismas present.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JCJCJC View Post
I wonder how good they are up-close. When he cuts the floor of the cut-outs, if I may call it that, with his coping saw, the finish looks very uneven - a router jig would do a nicer job by far. Any hand-tool craftsman would chisel a better finish there, purely my opinion.
JC, it almost looks to me like he deliberately makes the floor a little convex. I wonder if doing that helps make the joint look cleaner on the the inside.

Then again, for the demonstration, he might leave them as is, but for higher end work, he might clean them up more before final assembly ... who knows?

I'd like to see some close up pictures of his dovetails from the inside. They look great from the outside. Re the spacing not being perfectly uniform, I think that gives it character, and does not make the joint any weaker or anything.

Last edited by Chris Curl; 12-13-2012 at 02:29 PM. Reason: typos
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 03:19 PM
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Excerpt from the "North Woods", the Minnesota Woodworking Guilds Newsletter, December 2011 to January 2012, Article, Hand Toll Olympics:

"Late on Saturday I swung by the Hand Tool Olympics area and found this guy cutting his dove tails for the contest. He was using a hack saw and screwdriver. Un freaken believable. The tip of the screwdriver had been honed but so what.

Who could do this? His name is Rob Cosman. Yep, the guy with dozens of YouTube videos and DVDs. A group of us stood spellbound as first the tails and then the pins took shape. We held our collective breaths as the two pieces were fit together perfectly. Guess I need more practice. Never thought of using a screwdriver. Could that be the secret?

It turns out that Rob had just stopped by Mike Siemsen's booth to chat when he noticed a set of marginal looking tools Mike keeps out to make the point that good quality woodworking - dovetails even - can be accomplished with out investing a lot of money. With an $8 hacksaw, a $2 screwdriver (sharpened like a chisel) a block of wood used to pound the chisel, and a virtually free marking gauge (a scrap of wood with a protruding nail) a person can turn out some very fine dovetails - as Rob Cosman demonstrated. Mike says that a number of other less experienced and certainly less famous woodworkers have had equally good results using his low cost dovetail kit.
"

Rob Cosman cutting dovetails with a screwdriver.

Mike's low-cost dovetail kit and Rob's nearly perfect dovetail.

A year earlier...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=...ture=endscreen

"Don't worry, I saw this work in a cartoon once."
"Usually learning skills and tooling involves a progression of logical steps."

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-13-2012, 05:11 PM
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Don't let BJ see this.... the market will be flooded with pre-loved routers........LOL.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-14-2012, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Last night I dug through my crap and found an old miter saw and a coping saw, but the blade was broken.

I had a scrap piece of 1/2" poplar, so I clamped it into my workmate and got to work. I really wanted to do it the way Paul does it with the coping saw for the flat cuts, but I had to use a chisel for that part instead.

My 2nd attempt was with a piece of 3/4" pine. I actually had more trouble with the pine than I did with the poplar. I had a harder time keeping the sides perpendicular, and the chisel had a hard time removing the waste.

Here is what I learned:

The process is very straightforward and easy to learn, but one has to do it enough to be able to make clean dovetails that fit nice the first time.
Poplar, while not being as hard as many hardwoods, is still much harder than pine.
My miter saw sucks. It kept catching, and the handle does not hold the blade straight.
My chisels are dull.
I need a blade for my coping saw.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-14-2012, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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My home depot lunchtime run resulted in these items: new blades for my coping saw, an irwin dovetail saw, a sharpening stone, and some oil for the stone.

Amazon.com: IRWIN 213104 Dovetail Pull Saw: Home Improvement

More later after I learn how to use a pull saw and practice a little.

I guess most drawers are made from 1/2" wood? What would have dovetails and 3/4" thick wood? I'm trying to decide if it would it make sense to practice on the 3/4" pine I have or if I should rip it to 1/2" first.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-14-2012, 03:07 PM
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Chris, it really doesn't matter what thickness you practice on but i would recommend it not be pine. Soft woods, especially, require a razor sharp chisel as a dull chisel will tend to tear the fibers instead of shear them resulting in less precise cuts and a sloppier fit. Something with a medium hardness like poplar or sapele is easy to work yet leaves a relatively crisp edge. The harder the wood the better.
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