Hand-cut Dovetails With a Hacksaw !





Introduction: Hand-cut Dovetails With a Hacksaw !

Don't have any fancy tools? all you need is a hacksaw and a chisel.

It turned out better than I thought with hardly any gaps !I did pins first and that turned out easer for me.I thought I would try it out of pine and give myself a challenge and also show that it can be done without expensive hardwood.

Inspired by john heisz

John Heisz video

Step 1: Mark and Cut the Pins

I used an angle gauge and marked my pins and also a line the thickness of the board as shown, you don't have to use an angle gauge you can do it by eye and get some good results.

I made score lines with a knife, I then went over with pencil to make it easier to see.

Start the hacksaw off slow and hold your thumb up to the blade to guide it in then proceed to cut it down to the line across the board.

Cut into into your waste to make it easier to cut it out later.

TIP: mark your waste (the opposite to what's going to be the dovetail) with an x so you dont end up getting mixed up.

Step 2: Finishing the Pins

Knock a strait line with a chisel along end of the saw cut. Then begin to cut away the waste and then repeate this to the other side, then once you are nearly though you can carefully chop through, do this with care otherwise you could chip the wood.

Then clean up the edge with a chisel by pairing away your chisel needs to be very sharp and a block of wood clamped on top can provide a good strait reference.

Step 3: Mark and Cut Your Tails

Place your pins onto what's going to be our tails. and mark out our tails as shown.

Then proceed to cut like we did before. For cutting the end I used two pieces of scrap to provide support while they are being cut and to prevent snapping it.

Step 4: Complete Your Tails

like we did before, make a line then push up to it (as shown in 2nd photo) then chop through.

A clean up of the saw cut maybe required but once done you cna go ahead and glue it up.

Step 5: Glue Your Joint !

Glue your dovetail and put a few clamps on to press the joint into place. then sand it down and admire your hard work !

I rubbed a quick finish to show what it looks like.

I hope I have inspired you to get woodworking even with the minimal amount of tools and be sure to check out my YouTube channel for weekly woodworking videos.



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    22 Discussions


    2 years ago

    What kind of wood glue did you use to set the joint? I don't have any prior experience in carpentry, so I've been wondering what a good brand is. c:

    9 replies

    I used gorilla WOOD glue as it takes the wood colour nicely and sets in a reasonable time but you can use any wood glue. TIP its usually best to buy the big bottles as its often cheaper per litre then it is buying smaller bottles, if you have any more questions about woodworking or carpentry please feel free to let me know and send me a message I would be glad to help :)

    I find a bottle of Gorilla glue hardens a few months after it is opened no matter how big it is. This happens even if I put the bottle in a Ziploc bag with desiccant to prevent any moisture from getting to it. So I never buy more than I will use in a month.

    Reheat in water bath to "refresh" old gorilla wood glue. Bonds properly after YEARS

    that's very nice but I don't use original gorilla glue, I use gorilla WOOD glue.

    Put old bottles of lost-its-punch Gorilla Wood Glue in a "water bath" - a pot of not-quite-boiling-hot water. Let it sit there and heat up. (keep bottle closed don't get any water inside)

    It'll start flowing and bonding properly again.

    It seems to me that a lot of people have personal preferences in wood glue - and I agree there are differences - but most any brand will do, honestly, a very good job. I tend to like Elmers; many of my friends like Titebond. And like Tom says, the Gorilla products are becoming very popular. Don't stress. The biggest difference will be less in results and more in how much you like actually using that particular product.

    I think what's really important is to notice that each company has multiple kinds of glue, e.g. some that are stainable, some that are water resistant (or even water proof), some exterior some interior only, some in different shades, some quick drying and some slow drying, some thicker some thinner....

    As Tom also eludes, there are newly popular kinds of glue in addition to regular carpenter's glue. Polyurethane glues are especially popular, including the original Gorilla glue and the similar products made by other companies. These are pretty cool, but something of a specialty product and a bit finicky. I wouldn't recommend them for most general woodworking projects or for someone who is just getting started.

    This is what I do recommend for you, Oi27. Go to the hardware store and read the labels. Be sure you are getting carpenter's glue, then look for one that suits your needs - e.g. do you need water proof, or slow drying time? I tend to get glues that are stainable and water resistant because they cost only a little bit more and are more versatile. I like thicker ones because I think they are easier to work with (some will be advertised as 'gel' formulas, some you can test their thickness by shaking the bottle). So, really just get one that says it will do what you want, and trust that it will.

    One last thing - I again agree with Tom that the big bottles are better value (if they don't dry up on you between uses). But, like I said, people have personal preferences. You might try a few smaller bottles of different brands to find the one you like using best. Have fun!

    It's important to note that the strength in a good dovetail joint is mechanical.

    The glue has a small surface area in each interlocking section that actually bonds.

    Gorilla glue isn't recommended for this joint as it expands while curing, this can force loose joints apart, opposite what you're after.

    It is recommended to have a SLOW setting glue with long open time for starters.


    Its important to know i'm talking about gorilla WOOD glue not the original polyurethane glue.

    I MP

    2 years ago

    Being a hand tool woodworker myself I always appreciate seeing another share their knowledge.While a hacksaw will work as will any small hand saw, I think that an inexpensive back saw(tenon saw in the UK I believe) and coping saw will work a bit better. Check Paul Sellers on YouTube for his video.

    1 reply

    Lenox makes this AMAZING genius-in-its-simplicity item that, unfortunately, is ridiculously misnamed....as a folding drywall saw. (Looks like a huge blue pocket knife)

    What is it ACTUALLY and why do we care? Its an ergonomic, folding, locking HANDLE FOR 6" SAWZALL BLADES... in other words, the ultimate versatile, cheap, swappable blade general-purpose pull saw.

    I'm not going to buy into the which glue debate. They all have their uses and with tight joints, they all work well enough.

    But might I suggest using less glue. I'm not suggesting you will ever eliminate squeeze out, but you will save yourself some later work by minimising the squeeze out.

    Nice idea using a hacksaw. It's fun using the "wrong" tool for the job and discovering how well it works. As for the glue discussion... for me it's not so much about which glue to use, but which dispenser to use. Titebond comes in a tubular bottle (like a ketchup bottle) which I find the best for all-day, every-day use. Elmers comes in annoyingly thin or "flat" bottles that are more difficult to squeeze and therefore more tiring to use.

    1 reply

    Definitely! The flat tite bond bottles and the gorilla wood glue bottles are really easy to squeeze but my small tubular gorilla wood glue bottle is hard to squeeze I assume the reason is that it is small so there is less give with the small walls of the bottle.

    It's annoying me so much ! They keep complaining about me using gorilla glue (the original gorilla polyurethane glue) and it's open time and the expanding properties..... But the fact is that I am using gorilla wood glue ! It's just like pva ! But sets twice as fast. And I did clearly state it as well ah well I'd better not go on much more about it !

    IMHO- have tried many different glues, the elmers/titebond are
    basically PVA glues so have very similar qualities. I personally use
    titebond but have tried the new nexabond wood glue. I found it
    satisfactory depending on your end objective. If the item you glue is
    in its final stage

    For example. I do stave wood projects in which the object you glue together is then put in the lathe and reshaped. This puts the bond to considerable stress, and I had a failure with nexabond joint, although I am not an expert with it and may have not applied properly.

    If the joint is not going to be stressed after construction, then I agree, the glue may be academic.

    Buying in a large container may save money, depending on how much you use. Be sure to check the outdate. PVA glues and others have a shelf life after which they may lose their "punch". If you use small amounts, you may wind up throwing away a large bottle. Just a thought.

    Polyurathane glues do expand a bit and may require some joint clean up.

    Clamp times vary also, and these times are (or should be) on the container. This will include the clamp time and also the time until the glue sets enough to be subjected to stress.

    anyway, as I said, just IMHO

    have a great new year



    2 years ago

    Just like to say that by hand shows a true craftsman as when I was a boy that is how things where made. Today everything is handed on a plate with everything done for you by technology and if you can see the results of by gone years of the older furniture you can see how perfect the joints where. Good to see that the skills are still around.

    1 reply

    I am sorry but I have reported your comment as it is just self promotion and is not even relevant to this topic.