Now its a simple matter of cutting the rest of the tails for
the case, removing the waste and paring to the baseline.
After that, I match up my tail board to my pin board to mark
the cuts with a pencil, and then it’s dovetailing as normal.
Of course, I don’t mark the pin cuts on the face of either
board… I just mark the slope of the tail on the end grain
and saw straight down. But like I said, that’s all standard
dovetailing… its really the lack of making any initial lay
out marks that makes this method so freakin’ cool!
Now I know what you might be thinking….your probably telling
yourself that this is cazy… how can you ensure that all of
the tails are even and spaced properly??? How can you ensure
that your tails are going to be uniform and perfect and
Here’s the thing…dovetails don’t have to be perfect. In
fact, they are more historically correct and look better
when they are not perfectly sized and laid out. You want
machine shop precision in your woodworking? Get a Shopbot
and make your furniture like a cyborg…lifeless and dead
Me… I like traditional and human. And once you see
the finished product, I think you’ll agree…dovetails laid
out and cut by eye are very pleasing. It’s all about letting
go of your precise marking gadgets and letting your sense of
natural proportion take over. Your brain is surprisingly
precise without any guides.
Plum, level and true are pretty
well programmed inside you. Let go and allow yourself to
know them and you’ll spend a lot more time sawing and
chopping and less time marking and measuring.
Still don’t believe me? Here’s the case glued up and trimmed
flush ready for planing…
I’m pretty pleased with this method… thanks Roy!
And since this was so much fun, I ended up making a second
book shelf…and this one was even quicker. The whole thing
went together from 8 foot planks to a glued up case in about
After I finished the first one, I decided to dress them up a
bit with some nice simple crown molding and base quarter
round. Even though it covers up the dovetails, they were a
little too plain for our living room…
‘Til next time!
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