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W. & S. Butcher


Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


A Jig for Hand-cut Dovetails

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I have never been able to cut dovetails by hand, at least I couldn’t cut them good enough to suit me. I decided that there has to be a way to do it that would allow mw to succeed. I remembered reading on the Oldtools List that a magnet sunk into a jig would guide the saw and help it to cut a straight line.

Here is what I came up with. It is crude, but it works. I cut the pins first, then mark the tails and cut them without a jig. I think this is going to work fine, but if not, I will just make a similar jig for the tails.

I started by making a piece of maple about 10” long by 1 5/8” thick by 3” wide. I cut a rabbet 1” by 3/4 into one edge. This is to allow the jig to sit on the end of a board and be clamped in place.

Next I cut it in half, then I cut all 4 ends to a 7 degree angle.

Now I bored a counterbore into the end grain of all 4 ends to accept the magnets. The magnets need to be set into the wood just a tiny bit deeper than their thickness so that they will attract the saw blade, but not grab it.

These magnets are about 3/16” thick and 1 1/8” diameter.

Next I rabbeted the side opposite the original rabbet so I could glue on a skirt. The skirt is what gets clamped to the board being cut.

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Swan Chisels



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