Dovetailing weekend.

Posted by on Jun 9, 1916 in Beginner's Courses, Courses | No Comments

Due to my semi-retirement this course is no longer offered.

However, you may find the series of free to watch online instructional videos below helpful.

This course was an introduction to basic dovetailing. During the course we cut both through and lap dovetails both by hand and also using limited machine assistance. The aim was to show different ways of cutting the joint and also to develop the careful and accurate approach required to create the perfect dovetail.

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Course Description

This is  a two day furniture making course where you will find out about different approaches to cutting both through and lap dovetails. During the course you will make a box with through and lap dovetails and a sliding lid.

About the course.

This is the third of my basic skills weekends. The aim of this trilogy of courses is to introduce you to the key elements of fine woodworking; sharp tools, sound method and an obsessive approach to accuracy.

The first element is addressed in the tool sharpening and maintenance weekend course, method and accuracy were introduced in the basic jointing weekend, this course takes them to a higher level.

Students on this course should have some experience with sharpening and accurate marking and cutting, preferably having done the previous weekends in the trilogy or attended the beginners four day woodwork course or have  previous woodworking experience.

Some students may have tried cutting dovetails but been unimpressed with the results, for others this will be the first time they try cutting them. So everyone is starting from a similar level.

The course is based around making two pairs of book ends. You will learn how to accurately mark out a set of dovetails. Each pair of bookends will have one with through dovetails and the other with a lap dovetail. The first pair will be cut entirely by hand, on the second pair we will use a router to remove the waste, although this will be done free hand without jig control.  So the first day is entirely hand work, the second involves some router work.

The dovetails you cut on the course will probably not be perfect, you can’t expect perfection on your first attempt. However you will notice an improvement during the weekend, a trend that will continue as you practice the skills learned on the course.

The key learning points are:

  • Timber preparation, including shooting the ends square
  • Spacing and marking the tails using either dividers or ruler
  • Sawing through dovetails
  • Paring the waste between the tails using chisel, how to accurately pare to a line
  • Removing the waste between the tails using a router
  • Marking the pins from the tails using a workshop made support
  • Sawing the pins
  • Removing the waste between the pins using a chisel, accurate paring to a line
  • Removing the waste between the pins using a router and workshop made holding device
  • Fitting the joint, how to assess the joint to get a snug fit
  • Marking out a lap joint
  • Sawing the pins on a lap dovetail, a different method to through dovetails
  • Paring the pins on a lap dovetail
  • How to glue up a dovetail joint

During the course you can use different saws and chisels to help you with purchasing decisions if you are looking to buy tools.

The course is backed up by a fully illustrated handout on CD or for download.

Watch free instructional videos featuring topics covered on the dovetailing course

online woodwork course video
Watch online video woodwork instruction. Click for full list of videos in this series.

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Thankyou, Chris.