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  1. #1
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    Default Dovetail markers - good guide?

    Hi all,

    I'm thinking of a project of making some dovetail markers and wondering if anyone has a good build video/guide?

    I watched chunks of the obligatory Jesus Sellers youtube video. It seems far too fussy. The big secret/reveal seems to be using masking tape to only glue the parts of the faces that won't become waste. It generally seems to be far too fussy (which is surprising for Sellers). Plus, if you're using a piece of posh wood, quite a bit of waste.

    Don't you just need a flat piece of wood with a fence glued on, cut so that the edge of the pieces will give you a 1:6, 1:7, 1:8 (or whatever you want), angle to the vertical, at 90 degrees to the fence?

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  3. #2
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    I know this is not what you are after, but...

    I bought a dovetail marker from Sterling Toolworks in the USA last year. It was a spendy purchase for a single use tool.

    No regrets!

    Dovetail Marker | Sterling Tool Works – Fine Tools That Inspire! | Page 2

    I think you could do worse than emulate this tool's design.

  4. #3
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    Thanks Mark

    Yes the key seems to be having a block/fence/something that keeps the angled rulers perpendicular.

    I was wondering what the point was of having such tiny references and gratified to see that I don't seem to be the only one.

    Gee they look nice!

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cgcc View Post
    Gee they look nice!
    They really are!

  6. #5
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    If youíre doing tails first, the exact angle really doesnít matter. Itís more a matter of how consistent you want them from a visual perspective. Iíve taken to just cutting them freehand without marking first now. The angles all look consistent enough to me.
    Lance

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cgcc View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm thinking of a project of making some dovetail markers and wondering if anyone has a good build video/guide?

    I watched chunks of the obligatory Jesus Sellers youtube video. It seems far too fussy. The big secret/reveal seems to be using masking tape to only glue the parts of the faces that won't become waste. It generally seems to be far too fussy (which is surprising for Sellers). Plus, if you're using a piece of posh wood, quite a bit of waste.

    Don't you just need a flat piece of wood with a fence glued on, cut so that the edge of the pieces will give you a 1:6, 1:7, 1:8 (or whatever you want), angle to the vertical, at 90 degrees to the fence?
    These have served me a dozen years. I made them that many years ago I have used many types and these continue to be the best ...



    Build notes: Below I shall demonstrate how I make dovetail markers

    The reason that they are good is that you can mark two adjacent lines at the same time. This improves accuracy.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  8. #7
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    Thanks Lance

    However where I am at is starting to just practice - what you've described is where I want to end up!

    I do not want to use guides/jigs et cetera for the sawing action. I am a little dubious when the sellers state that they promote muscle memory. Maybe I am too cynical.

    I have rapidly found that good light, and a clamp up to a comfortable height, are mandatory. I am thinking of making a mini work-bench I can take outside for dovetailing already!

  9. #8
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    Many thanks Derek - I think I will adopt something like that. Although I don't have a disc / bedded belt sander so may need to get creative...

    I did a little 'googling' to see where I might be able to pick up an angle section in my travels on the weekend. The only brass supplier is quite a ways out from me and not open on weekends.

    But I did notice aluminium sections sold as tile trims seem readily available? But may be a little gory with the edges worked and not matching the coating.

    QEP 14mm x 2.5m Black Satin Mosaic Trim Tile | Bunnings Warehouse

    I was also wondering in that vein... would an option be to use a brass door hinge, and just loctite the hinge to 90 degrees towards the end? That would let you work it easily by opening it out flat to cut to angle.

    ... although I am reminded of a photo I once saw of someone using a bathroom tap as a vice screw handle. It looked ingenious and like it would work very well. But you are still looking at a bathroom tap in your 'shop all day!

  10. #9
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    I'm not sure what Paul Sellers video you are watching, but I made one of his simple wooden templates a while ago and it works a treat. Took very little time and/or skill to make and no masking tape or glue either.
    Making the Paul Sellers dovetail template - Paul Sellers' Blog
    Franklin

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cgcc View Post
    I did a little 'googling' to see where I might be able to pick up an angle section in my travels on the weekend. The only brass supplier is quite a ways out from me and not open on weekends.

    But I did notice aluminium sections sold as tile trims seem readily available? But may be a little gory with the edges worked and not matching the coating.
    Iím pretty sure you can pick up aluminium angle at Bunnings. When I was starting dovetailing I copied Derekís with aluminium. The only issue is that it is soft, and over time my making knife trimmed the edges such that theyíre not dead strait any more, but donít think it made any difference as the saw evens out any irregularities.
    Lance

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LanceC View Post
    I’m pretty sure you can pick up aluminium angle at Bunnings. When I was starting dovetailing I copied Derek’s with aluminium. The only issue is that it is soft, and over time my making knife trimmed the edges such that they’re not dead strait any more, but don’t think it made any difference as the saw evens out any irregularities.
    There is a metal merchant I go to occasionally in my area who has an offcut bin (actually a set of shelves).

    There's always a selection of brass, aluminium, copper and mild steel. all sold by the KG.

    There is bound to be plenty of other metal merchants around that do this. Check websites etc and see what you can find.

    I just call in when I am going past that way and pick up anything that looks useful.

  13. #12
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    I made mine similar to Derek's, from aluminium right-angle extrusion. They've lasted me well over many years. If I were making them now I'd use brass, purely from the point of view of appearance, and perhaps because it's a little harder, although that hasn't been a problem.
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  14. #13
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    Check out these people on Youtube for different approaches but in the end Frank Klauz has it nailed and he did it for a living all his life.

    Rob Cosman....very fussy on detail

    David Barron.....Uses DT markers

    John Buller....Straight forward and to the point

    Frank Klauz....No markers or measuring just do it. This approach is most probably how it was done before hobbyist got involved. He does it while others are working out where the dividers and markers are.

    Dereks blue tape method is the best way to learn what side of the line to place the saw.

  15. #14
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    I have visited many forums around the Internet, and there are always a few who wish to imitate Frank Klausz. I have also come across as many who wish to copy the precision of Rob Cosman.

    With all due respect to Frank, who has been one of my heros in woodworking, his philosophy fits with one in production mode, who is paid for time, and out to pare away any extra seconds. I do not view being able to ďfreehandĒ dovetail angles as a method to aspire to in the home workshop. I do respect the handskills in an ability to freehand, however.

    Ironically, Frank made his name among hobby woodworkers by teaching them to cut dovetails (and other joinery). He is in part responsible for dovetailing being elevated to a joint to show off. The world of dovetailing seems to be divided into two camps: one who views the dovetail with a pedestrian eye, like Frank. Cosman clearly belongs to the pack taking the dovetail to a refinement where it is judged and where it defines the quality of a piece of furniture. This is not a modern thing, as some imagine, but has also been present for centuries in the high end pieces. Look at the work of studio makers - their dovetails are, like all the work completed, done to their highest level possible.

    Of these two groups, I would align more closely with Cosman. I want to do the best work possible, and dovetails are part of the design. They are not an afterthought. I suspect that most of those who write that they do not care about gaps or the slimness of the tails are probably incapable of doing better. It is convenient for them to be able to down play a show of skill.

    When it comes to dovetail markers, having a range of angles allows one to determine how the joint will best be designed for that case or drawer. I do not use the same angle or width universally. Different style of furniture marry with different dovetail designs. I cannot do this by freehanding dovetails.

    Back to making markers.

    You can make a very nice marker out of wood. Choose one of our Aussie hardwoods, and it will last a long time. You can make a variation of the one below. This was a bit of a joke in that I called it the dovetailed dovetail marker. Just lose the brass and keep the wood ...



    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parks View Post
    Check out these people on Youtube for different approaches but in the end Frank Klauz has it nailed and he did it for a living all his life.
    Something to note with all the different methods you see on youtube is that there are a lot of different applications in which dovetails are used.

    Frank Klausz is a cabinetmaker. He always uses the example of a drawer when he does his no-layout-marking dovetails. You can't see the dovetails unless the drawer is open and then you are looking at the contents of the drawer. When he was learning his craft it would not have mattered if his dovetails were not all evenly spaced as long as the joint was tight and strong. Over time of course he has come to be able to space them by eye so that they are pretty much spot on anyway but as a low visibility structural joint does it really matter?

    Rob Cosman mainly demonstrates dovetails for small boxes where they are more of a decorative feature. He is not only after precision but also looking for ways for beginners to achieve precision with little practice so that they can walk away from his courses with a box to be proud of with all the corners perfect.

    No professional cabinetmaker could justify the time spent doing it Cosman's way and nobody teaching beginner woodworkers how to make a dovetail box could afford the time to have his students practice practice practice until they could get a satisfactory result doing it Klausz's way. Paul Sellers and Chris Schwarz have some interesting ways part-way between the two extremes of Klaus and Cosman as do many others. It's a matter of finding a way that suits you and make sure that the method you are using on a given job are suitable for the degree of accuracy required.

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