Introduction: Hand Cut Dovetails Faster

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That start…

Hand cutting Dovetails can be a slow and tedious presses, but with a few changes, it can be much faster. This in not intended to be the most accurate way, but the simplest method to quickly hand cut dovetails without special tools or jigs. There is an earlier instructable on the simple way of cutting dovetails one at a time, Here. This goes into further detail on the individual steps. But most of the time you are making several drawers at one time, and even if you have just one drawer, Then you have 8 board ends to make your way through. So here is what I do to quickly cut through Dovetails.

Tools needed:

Marking knife:

Chisel Set:

Dovetail Saw:

Moxon Vise: How I made mine:

Mallet: How I made mine:


Step 1: Gang Cut the Tails

cutting one set of tails at a time is slow, and if you can stack up all your tiles and cut them in one pass you will save yourself a lot of time. Also, all your tales will look the same as they were all cut together. I start by clamping all the tale boards together and lining up the bottom edge of all the boards. then it is just like cutting one at a time. Lay out your top line with a square and then cut down at your desired angle to your stop cut.

Step 2: Gang Chop Out the Waste

If you set up the tale boards in a stairstep pattern on the bench top, you can hold them all in place with a hold fast. this will allow you to make repeated motions and chop through them all faster. Start by chopping down a bit away from the stop line on every tale. Then, pair in at an angle to the depth of the chop you made on every tale. just repeat the presses tell you are half way through then flip the boards over and chop from the other side. rather than wasting your time changing and setting up each board you save time with only having to change them around every now and then.

Step 3: Mark and Cut the Pins

Unfortunantlymarking and cutting the pins has to be done one at a time. It is a fairly quick though. I like to set the pin board in the vise and support the other end of the tail board with a block of wood the same height as the vise. Then, after marking the pin locations raise up the pins and cut down to the stop line with the dovetail saw.

Step 4: Chop Out the Pins

This step is exactly like cutting out the waste on the tails. You can clamp them to the bench top in a stairstep pattern and hold them in place with the holdfast. Then chop and remove the waste just like you did with the tails.

Step 5: Fit the Joint

The last step needs to be done one at a time. Each joint needs to be fit in place. this is a prosses of testing the fit and then adjusting the pins or tails to make them fit together. With a bit of persuading they should soon slide together. I go into far more detail in this instructable that is all about hand cutting dovetails.

Woodworking Contest 2017

Third Prize in the
Woodworking Contest 2017