Hound’s Tooth Dovetail Series 3 of 3

In this final installment, Frank goes over the layout and cutting of the pins and then assembles the finished joint.

Video Transcript:

OK, I’m fairly happy with the way the tails turned out. Now I’m going to transfer the tails onto the pin board here, which is this piece of 12/4 walnut here, thick piece of walnut. And I’m going to set this in the vise. And I’ve got this long, seven-foot piece of hard maple supported.

One of the tools that I like to use for marking these needle-point hounds tooth dovetails is this little cheapest little knife that you can find. You can find these at your local home center. And the nice thing about it is the blade is thin, and you can get it right in here and mark it.

The key though, is to make sure that the knife doesn’t wander. Another knife that I like to use is this chip carving knife, Swiss made, and it’s also got a thin blade. And it allows me to be able to work it right down inside there.

And the lay out here is critical. OK, now I’ve got the dividers. And I’m going to just set them here to the baseline of the hounds tooth dovetail. And then we’ll just transfer it right over here.

And then I’ll take my cutting gauge, and set it on that mark right there. So the next step is to know how deep to cut here. So I’m just going to take a measurement off of the thickness of this stock using the cutting gauge. And then we’ll transfer that.

So on the inside here, we’ll just take and we’ll score across there. Now all I’ve got to do is draw my line straight down. So what’s really key here is that when I saw this, that I stay perfectly within the waste line.

But at the same time, my goal here is to, when I fit this together, to not have to pare anything right here. So I want to hug that line, I mean literally right up against that line and following right there. Now we’ll just cut straight down at an angle.

Now let’s cut the hounds tooth part.

One of the tricky things about cutting this joint is chiseling out the waste, especially in these small areas right in here. So one of the things that I’ve found that’s helpful is if I bore out some of the waste with a brace and bit. That’ll just kind of help remove some of that waste prior to chiseling.

I’m going to set the depth here. Don’t want to get too close to the line. In fact, staying away from the line is the best thing here. The goal is really just to rough remove some of that waste. So we can always chisel that last little bit.

OK, I’m ready to chop out the waste here.

Hold fast holds it in well. I’m going to start by scoring the baseline just a little bit deeper here. And we’ll establish that baseline.

Now that we’ve removed down to the base of this line, the next tricky part is to remove both of these right here on either side. It’s not going to show back in there, but it will show right there. And you’ll also remember when we cut this, we cut this at an angle right in there. So there’s some material that is not severed back this way. So the only way to remove that is by paring it.

Looks somewhat messy in there at this point. The key is just kind of getting there and remove as much as you can. Then you can come back and fine-tune it. But right now–

And then I’m going to come in here with the chisel and work down to that baseline there. I’m going to work up to it slowly. And when I get to within about a 32nd of that line, I’m going to take the chisel and let it fall into that cut. That will give me the most accurate cut right there.

If I, in this case over here, if I took the chisel and I try to push it in there at this point, chances are, the chisel would push back past the line. So I’ve got to just a little bit more material off– again, leaving about a 32nd or so. And then take that chisel, and even though I can’t even necessarily see the line, I can feel the line. And you can see, that chisel just falls right into that cut.

What I want to do now is just clean up, and make sure the angles are good and crisp right where they meet. So I can do that by paring to the line, just as you see right there, just paring right down to it, making sure the key here is everything is got to be good and crisp.

OK, I think I’m done cleaning it up. Let’s go ahead and try to test fit this.

OK, the moment of truth. Here we go.

Lining it up. Usually it needs a little persuasion.

That’s it. There’s a hounds tooth dovetail, needle-point dovetail.

6 Responses to Hound’s Tooth Dovetail Series 3 of 3

  1. Paul Chapman April 11, 2015 at 7:55 AM #

    I’ve only recently found your blog, Frank. I think your videos are superb – almost as good as being there!

    • Frank Strazza April 11, 2015 at 8:08 AM #

      Hi Paul, I am glad you found the blog. Thanks for watching!

  2. Darwin Benedict April 12, 2015 at 7:58 AM #

    Frank, you do an excellent job on the blog. I get so lost engrossed when I watch them. I have to make sure I have no other obligations when I watch. You make it look so easy. Makes me want to take another class at the Center and I will some day. Thanks.

  3. Guy April 13, 2015 at 5:55 PM #

    Really neat Frank, Thanks for sharing!
    You really demystify so much for me.

  4. Michael April 13, 2015 at 10:11 PM #

    2 questions i have. I noticed that most of the pictures are of needlepoint dovetails. Are there any advantages and disadvantages of using them. Also when I cut dovetails my pins tend to break when assembling the joint. I was wondering if there any solutions to this. Seeing hounds tooth dovetail has made me want to cut one. Can’t wait to try this

    • Frank Strazza April 14, 2015 at 8:09 AM #

      Hello Michael,
      Really the only reason I am making the needlepoint dovetails is for looks. I just think it just looks sharp (pardon the pun!). It is surprising how many older period pieces I have seen with dovetails very similar. I would not necessarily recommend a beginner to try such fine dovetails, as its a little more of a challenge.

      So far as the pins breaking. It sounds like the joint is too tight. Where are they breaking? Generally they should not break in the center but if your half pins on the ends are too small they can break there. That is why I make the half pins fairly substantial on the two outside edges. In other words, the half pins are half the shape not half the size!

      Hope this helps.