Hound’s Tooth Dovetail Series 2 of 3

In the second of a 3-part series, Frank discusses and demonstrates the proper methods for cutting the tails on a traditional Hound’s Tooth needlepoint dovetail. The dovetails are being cut on a split-top Roubo workbench that he’s currently building.

Video Transcript:
OK, so before we cut the tails, I want to talk about probably the most important part of the process here. And that is that we cut perfectly square right here. And we didn’t lay that out yet, so I’m going to go ahead and lay that out with the square.

So what I’m essentially doing is taking these angled lines, and drawing them square across the end grain right here. And this is absolute key to a tight-fitting joint. You’ve got to have– these lines have got to be perfectly square right across here– perfectly square.

So you see that– nice and square. Cutting these angles does tend to be somewhat of a challenge. A little bit awkward to hold the saw and position your body and such. But it’s something you kind of have to get used to.

Good sawing practice is key here– sawing skill, rather. And sawing practice is something that you can do by watching some of the other videos. We did a video on sawing practice. But you’ll notice here, I’m sawing just perfectly straight across there– really, really key. And I’m just going to follow the line.

One thing I probably should note here is that I am on the waste side of the line. Again, we’ll note that this is the waste. This is the waste. Obviously, in the middle there is the waste.

I like to cut all of these same angles going the same way, because once you position your body in this awkward position, you can kind of get that muscle memory set. And then just cut all the angles the same way before I actually change my body into a new position.

So perfectly square– I’m concentrating on being perfectly square first, and then I’ll go ahead and do the angle.

I’ve switched this around in the vise here so that I can point it up closer. And I’m going to cut the angles going the other way. Now, I want to talk about is the trick for cutting these needlepoint dovetails is to set the saw right in the same kerf that we used to cut the angle the other way.

So you see here, we cut the angle coming down like this. Now all I’ve got to do is set the saw in that kerf and just start the angle going the other way. And that creates the needlepoint dovetail.

I’m using a tenon saw here, as opposed to a dovetail saw. And the reason for that is I need a little bit heavier saw for doing this thicker material, as well as this hard maple.

The next step here is to go ahead and cut off the half pins. And it’s important here that we are very accurate to our knife line right here, because this is going to be seen. So again, as I do with all of my cross-grain cuts, we will make a knife wall there, and coming in with our cross-cut saw, we’ll cut that off.

Next step here is to remove the waste here. And I like to use a coping saw to remove just above the line, and then we’ll chisel it. So let’s get the coping and we’ll go ahead and do that. So we’re just going to start just above the line there, and bring the coping saw around, again staying a little bit above the line.

There we go. And the same thing on the hounds tooth part. Being that I’ve cut a little bit about the line, I want to remove the waste with a chisel here. And I’m just going to come a little bit above that line there and just kind of remove some of that waste before I set the chisel right in the line.

One final check here– I’m going to check to make sure that I’ve cut square across here. And what I’m looking for is I’m making sure there’s no light is coming through. That looks pretty good. This is really key here. That’s good.

4 Responses to Hound’s Tooth Dovetail Series 2 of 3

  1. P J Flynn April 7, 2015 at 6:38 PM #

    Simple, straight forward, easy to follow. I have finally found someone other than Roy that I can enjoy and learn from. Thanks Frank I cant wait to see the rest.

    • Frank Strazza April 7, 2015 at 11:22 PM #

      Thank you Flynn for the comment! Glad you enjoyed the video. We should have part 2 up in the next couple days.

  2. Mike Haynes May 3, 2015 at 11:47 AM #

    Frank, what tools did you use to cut the small dowels on the leg bell flower inlay from your award winning table (the one with the rose inlay)?

    • Frank Strazza May 3, 2015 at 5:10 PM #

      Hi Mike,
      I actually made my own cutter using a very small piece of brass tubing. Filed little teeth in the end and then chucked it into the drill press to create little plugs. I got the idea from one of Steve Latta’s inlay DVDs by Lie-Nielsen. If you are interested in seeing more pictures on the creation of the “Roses” table, I am currently posting pictures on my own Instagram page and they can be seen at http://www.instagram.com/strazzafurniture