Cutting the Pins

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Tail hoard

Transfer the Tail Shape. Set the tails over the end of the pin board and trace their outline with a pencil.

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The mating half of the half-blind dovetail joint is the pins. And they're a little more challenging to make. One reason for this is the pins are visible from only two sides of the workpiece. So your access to cutting and trimming is limited.

Another challenge is that you'll need to make the pins match the tails exactly for a perfect fit. But as you'll see, you can overcome both of these issues. Tire trick is a simple layout and a unique approach to routing the pins that can both increase accuracy and save time.

IAY OUT THE PINS. Just like the tails, the first step in making the pins is the layout. But there are a few differences here to point out. First, you'll need to draw two baselines.

One is laid out on tire inside face of the pin board. It should match the thickness of tire tail board. Actually, I like to lay out the baseline a hair deeper. This way, 1 can trim the pin board flush with the tails after assembly for a perfect fit.

Tlie second base! ine is drawn on the end of the pi n board, as you can see in Step I below. And it's determined by the length of the tails.

With these baselines set, you can lay out the shape of the pins. For this step, I use the mating tail board as a template, as shown in Step 2. With the pin board clamped in the vise and flush with the bench top, I set tire tail board on top of it and transfer the shape of each tail to tire end of the pin board.

Then, as Step 3 shows, I use a square to continue the lines across the face of the pin board to tire baseline. Before moving on, I mark the ^^ waste area to be removed,

ROUTER SAVES TIME. You'll notice there's a lot more waste material that has to be removed here compared to cutting the tails. And removing it by hand is a tedious task. You can really save some time by roughing out the waste with a router, as in the photo above.

Besides saving time, there's another advantage that comes with


Transfer tail shape to end of pin board

Full Length Pinboards

Face baseline

Pin board board

Lay out pin\ depth to match length of tails

Mark Baselines. The end baseline matches the length of the tails. The face baseline equals the thickness of the tail board.

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1VI v/

Mark pinson face


Baseline , matches thickness of tail board

Complete the Pin. Pick up a square and complete the pin shape to the baseline on the face of the pin board. Mark the waste.

Inside face of tail board


Clean up corners of tails with a chisel

Make shallow passes full depth

Straightedge establishes depth of pins

Use a router and a straight bit to quickly remove waste using the router. The bit creates a perfectly flat surface at the bottom of the tail sockets. And a straightedge gives me another flat starting point for cleaning out the corners. You can see the setup for the routing in Step 4. (I used a palm router, but any type of router will work.)

I clamped a straightedge to the pin board to act as a backstop so 1 wouldn't rout the pin sockets too deep. In order to position the straightedge, you'll need to measure the offset from the edge of Hie router base to the edge of the bit.

The next step is to set the depth of the straight bit. The bit depth should match the length of the tails.

ROUT THf WASTE. The actual routing is pretty straightforward stuff. However, taking a full-depth cut places a lot of stress on the router bit and motor. You can avoid this by gradually "nibbling" away the waste, making several sweeping passes from left to right in each socket. With each pass, you can work steadily deeper into the socket, taking about a V bite at a time, as in details 'a' and 'b' in Step 4.

Rout as close to the layout lines as you feel comfortable. Remember, the more you rout, the less you need to trim away with a chisel.

CLEAN UP W(TH CHISELS. The final steps in making the pins are shaping the sides and cleaning up the back corners. This is done with some chisel work. As I mentioned before, the flat spots you made with the router will help guide the chisel strokes.

Clean Up Comers. Using the flat edge created by the bit, dean up the back corners of the pin sockets.

You'll find it's best to take thin cuts and sneak up on the layout lines.

It's tempting to say, "That's all there is to it." But more than likely, tire joint will still be too tight to fit together properly. Don't worry, all it takes are a few well-placed paring

Shape the Pins. To complete the work on the pins, pare away the waste on the pin sides with a chisel. Take thin cuts to avoid splitting the grain.

cuts with your chisel to get it to fit. And you can read more about that in the box below.

The result of your efforts will be tight-fitting joints that come together snugly. And something you'll be proud to show off.

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