After becoming frustrated with the slow progress I was making at cutting dovetail joints by hand, I began to do more research about how I could improve my cuts. I was having issues sawing straight lines with my hand saw (the blade flexed and caused a wavy cut) but finally found a way that significantly improved my dovetail joints.
I found a video of David Barron’s dovetail cutting guide on YouTube and thought it was worth a shot. Although his CNC machined aluminum guides look beautiful, they are cost prohibitive for me. I set out on designing my own version however, and ended up with something that does an excellent job,
I use the guide to guide my saw when cutting the tails first, and then flip the guide 90 degrees to cut the pins. Since the angle on the guide is machine cut, as long as I keep my saw flush with the guide, the angles on my dovetail joint will line up perfectly.
Although I will be making additional refinements to the wood dovetail guide to make it even better (needs to be a little wider, more magnetic pull), I am very happy with how it helps in sawing such a beautiful yet difficult joint. It helped me finish my first dovetail project, a miniature version of Paul Seller’s Shaker style candle box. Although the box I made isn’t perfect, I’m very happy with the result and can’t wait to build the next one!
Originally published at bertwagner.com on August 7, 2014.