Dovetail Joints and the Jointmaker Pro

Light-tight dovetail joints are a hallmark of craftsmanship. The video below illustrates how we make through dovetails using the Jointmaker Pro. In the interest of saving a few megabytes of bandwidth, a little background information is in order…

“Traditional methods” are important, perhaps pertinent, but often times I feel the urge to try ideas that are not 300 years old. That said, the only aspect of dovetailing in this video that is “traditional” (it is such a regressive word) is waste removal by chisel. The rest should be an enlightening combination of speed and accuracy–and easily replicable.

When setting the blade (or the fence) of the Jointmaker Pro to a particular angle, we make practice cuts on wide stock until the stock nests perfectly to a reference (t-bevel or square). All of the prep work for this video was done off camera.

Regarding pins vs tails first, I embrace “whatever works for you”. However, with the Jointmaker Pro we are definitely pro tail (socket) first. The reason is simple, we did not need to layout the tails. You will see us using a stop block for joint symmetry. We also made all of the tail cuts by cutting from both faces of the stock with the blade set at the same angle–this ensures the single pass cuts are also dead symmetrical–this is much faster incredibly accurate…more on this at the end.

By making a zero clearance throat plate, we can make single pass cuts to either side of a line with ease–and so can you. We used 1/8″ aircraft plywood for the false tables and the throat plate. (You only make these once, they can be used over as often as needed.) The video shows minimal layout to mate the pins to the tails–that is all that is required and pencil tic marks worked fine. Of course, you can use whatever method you prefer–we only care about a light-tight joint.



I think you will agree, the saw cuts cannot be improved–by any method. And if you had a complete project (as opposed to our single sample joint) we believe there is not a faster way to hand cut dovetails. Of course layout can be expanded for more complex joints but you don’t need much–the saw does the work perfectly without the need for a thorough visual reference. The saw (assuming a sharp blade) cannot cut crooked unless your set-up was crooked.  In short, the Jointmaker Pro reliably cuts your intent, cut after cut without you worrying about accuracy.

It is incredible to think that EVERY cut is exactly the same depth and perfectly angled. Lastly, this was a first take video and we spent no effort on the proportions of the half and full pins. We just made cuts and chiseled away and you will never guess what happened. I could fit the tails onto the pins from either direction, and that has NEVER happened to me before.

What fun!

–John

PS: I am working on a way to cut half-blind dovetails. I will let you know if I succeed…

If you have a woodworking friend who would like to see this video and not wade through my ramblings, here is the YouTube link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_eyFENlSQ0&fmt=18

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