Hound’s Tooth Dovetail Series 1 of 3

In this 3- part series, Heritage School of Woodworking Instructor Frank Strazza demonstrates the layout, cutting and fitting of a Hound Tooth’s needlepoint dovetail as part of a split-top Roubo workbench he’s currently building.

Video Transcript:
Hi, my name is Frank Strazza with the Heritage School of Woodworking, and in this video, I want to show you how to cut a half-blind hounds tooth dovetail like this right here. This is actually a needlepoint dovetail. It gets its name because it looks like a needle. It comes right to a needle point. Certainly evidence that this was not done with a router, all hand cut.

This is actually on a split-top Roubo workbench that I’m building in hard maple with some walnut accents. So this joint lends itself very nicely for this application. The tail vise is right here. The stress of the tail vise would be pushing this way if your clamping, so that’s where this joint comes in very nice right here.

We’ll actually divide this up into three parts. You’ll actually do the marking and measuring first, then we’ll cut the tails and then we will do the pin. So I hope you enjoy the video, and please leave some comments below. Let me know what you think, and ask any questions as well. So let’s go for it.


–mark this with a pencil across here. I’m going to come back later and mark it with a knife. The next thing I want to do here is I want to divide this in half, and I can just simply use a pair of dividers for that. We can just eyeball this. You could measure it too, but I find the dividers are really the most accurate means. So that’s pretty close there. That’s the center.

I’m coming in here with a bevel square. I’ve set this bevels square to a one in seven angle. We’re going to go ahead and mark the angles here. So we’ve got the half pins, and then we’re going to mark the tail. There we go. So this is the waste, this is the waste, and this is the waste.

Now for the hounds tooth, and essentially all a houndstooth is is it’s a dovetail within a dovetail. And what I like to do here is I’m going to come down 2/3, and we can just figure that out just by dividing this into thirds. So we’re going to just eyeball thirds here, and then step this off. It looks like I’m going to need to close that in just a little bit, and we’ll step that off. That’s close.

So now what we’re going to do is we’re coming up from the bottom here from the baseline. We’re coming up a third or down from the top 2/3, OK? So we can just take our square and mark the baseline for the hounds tooth part.

And now we’re going to divide the middle of each one of these tales. Again, we’re just going to come back with our dividers, and this actually happens to be pretty close to the same. Let’s just go ahead and mark that. There we go, so that’s the center of the houndstooth tail. So the houndstooth is going to be right there in the middle of the tail, and we’ll go ahead and mark that.

And as I mentioned, these are needle points. So what I mean by that is you can see it comes right up to a point there. But I am going to leave enough room for the curve of the saw, so I’m kind of eyeballing that, and you’ll see how that works. So you can see, we’re just going to come in here like that. So that’s that.

So the one thing I want to do, I’ve marked this out here with a pencil. But now I want to come back with a knife, and scribe my cross-grained baseline cut. It’s really key here that I have a very sharp knife. And then I take my square right up there and scribe just the baseline area where it’s going to be removed– where the stock is going to be removed.

So you see what I’m doing. I’m just carrying that knife line. Accuracy is key here. You’ll notice that I’ll angle in the knife to compensate for the double bevel, and I just I put the knife right there and bring the square up to it and bring it across.

What I want to do here is I want to create a half lap in this dovetail. What this does is it kind of helps reduce the thickness of this, which makes it a little bit easier when you’re cutting the tails. But it also establishes a nice shoulder for you to be able to register this when you transfer it on to the pin. So I’m going to set my cutting gage here to an inch and a quarter, and we’ll scribe this from the face.

So this part here is going to be removed, all that part. OK, so what I’m going to do now is go ahead and cut the half lap. This is on the backside, and I’m going to start by just creating a wall for me to be able to work the saw right up against. So we’ve created this wall.

Now I’m going to just work the saw. I’m using a crosscut saw here, and make sure that I keep this saw, don’t go past the line. Now let’s rip off the half lap here. You can just take that. You can just take that.

So there’s the half lap. This part doesn’t have to be super pretty because it’s going to be totally hidden. What really needs to be important is the shoulder thought. That’s got to be perfectly square and accurate, and this is pretty close.

Let’s go ahead and turn our attention now to cutting the tails.

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