Aim for thin, almost transparent shavings. If your chisel is sharp, paring cuts shouldn't require any force, just controlled, light pressure.
Theoretically, you could lay out your pin sockets from the tail template (if you use one), but I prefer to mark the pins by scribing directly from the tails. That way if I've made a slight error on the tails, it will carry over to the pins, giving me a gap-free joint.
First scribe the depth line and baseline, then align the tail board with the pin baseline, clamp the boards securely so they don't shift at this critical step, and carefully scribe around the tails with a pointed marking knife. (See Fig. 3) Using a square and your marking knife, extend the lines down the inner face of the pin stock to connect them with the pin depth line. This gives you the pin profile.
Now saw diagonally to the pin baseline and the depth line. (See Fig. 3.) This time, stay about Vm in. inside the line and make additional cuts between the pins to ease waste removal.
To chisel out the waste, clamp the pin stock flat on the workbench, and pare with a bench chisel, starting H& in. above the pin depth line. Chop about % in. deep at each pass, working with great care. After each cross-grain cut, clean out the waste from the end-grain side. (See Fig. 3 ) Pare the waste in layers rather than large chips because the pins are delicate.
There are two situations that complicate the clean-up. First, you're working in tight comers. Second, the neck of each pin ends in a sharp angle. Remember, you're working end grain and it has a tendency to split off. After removing the waste use a sharp '/S-in. bench chisel to carefully pare the sloping sides of each pin and a XA-in. spear-point cliisel to get into the corners. (See sidebar.) Then pare down to the pin depth line with a triangularsection chisel and undercut the line slightly. Now you're ready for a test fit.
Insert the pin stock into a bench vise with the pin depth line almost flush to the workbench surface. lightly tap the tail stock onto the pin stock. As you tap, feel for stiff resistance and check the back of your dovetails for crushed fibers. If you have to pare the joint for a better fit, take waste off the pins. The pin sockets provide more clearance and better visibility for trimming. Working into the end grain will be easier and give you better control.
The methods I've described allow me to incorporate dovetails into my finer work with speed and economy. Hand-cut dovetails should be considered an important milestone in a craftsman's development. And for the "old pros" it's a way to stay sharp and reaffirm their craftsmanship. A
Was this article helpful?
There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.