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  • Best way to make stopped dovetails

    Gentlefolk,

    I'm looking for a little advice on how to do this with hand tools - don't have, and don't want to have to have a router.

    I'm making a large draw-leaf trestle table and need to make a box/apron/frame thing to support the top and join the table trestle legs.

    The top won't be attached to the legs because it's draw-leaf - it floats. So I wanted to join the cross members of the box to the lengthwise members with stopped sliding dovetails for strength, and to resist racking. I thought the dovetails might work better than mortise and tenon.

    So how, outside of laborious chisel work that will be both heavy and fussy do I make a substantial sliding stopped dovetail to join what will basically be two 2x4's? Can't saw, because it's stopped. Can't plane. Anyone know the answer (or have a better solution)?

    Thanks,

    Jim Lebans

  • #2

    Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

    Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

    You can drill out a bunch of the waste with a forstner bit. Then pare/chop the rest.

    To me, given the size of the joint, a well constructed mortise and tenon would be sufficient. If you are concerned, consider wedging the tenons.

    Woodwork magazine had a good article on a trestle table which you might want to consult for ideas.

    Scott

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    • #3

      Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

      Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

      I've made a number of small candlestands, which have sliding dovetails to attach the legs to the column.

      I've chiseled them out, which was tedious but not overwhelmingly so.

      I have also bored a hole down the length of the dovetail and then used a chisel to finish it off. This is really risky, because if you are off a bit you will end up outside of where you wanted to be.

      I have sawed them too. You can saw a stopped cut. Bore a hole at the end and saw up to that hole. It works, but the waste still needs to be removed with a chisel.

      The usual way I do the stopped sliding dovetails is to bore a series of holes along the length of the socket, and clean up with a chisel. I made a template out of a bit of scrap steel and a piece of scrap wood. You slide it through the socket when you get close to finished, and it helps pinpoint the high spots that require more work.

      Darrell
      Hm... Xmas is coming, maybe I should make another table.
      Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

        Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

        Check out Tage Frid's joinery book (I think it's volume 1). I'm pretty sure he shows how to hand cut sliding dovetails. This is a great book. Now I wish I knew where I put it!
        Chris Gorman in Ottawa

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        • #5

          Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

          Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

          Thanks for the advice everyone. Maybe I'll think again about some wedged mortise and tenon joints.

          On the other hand, now that I've consulted Frid, there's a recipe. Of course he uses a custom-made stopped sliding dovetail saw. I dearly love making a tool to bootstrap a project .

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          • #6

            Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

            Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

            Darrell,
            I am making the classic Shaker Candlestand and trying to use hand tools as much as possible.

            All the articles I have read say it is really easy to make the leg joints by hand, but instead of showing you how, they go and tell you how to do it with a router :-(

            I have been working out the procedure slowly myself, but would appreciate any hints you might have. The legs are done but I am still fussing over the sockets. I have been practicing the sawing technique and want to try doing it that way.

            Issues I am wrestling with include:
            - How to hold the column while I layout and cut the sockets? I don't have an indexing head on my lathe. My test piece is a cylinder and much easier to clamp to the bench than the actual table column.
            - How to accurately make the flats on the column where the legs join. When you use the router jig, you make a pass with a ” straight bit to make a flat where the shoulders meet the column. When I do it by hand it is pretty tricky to layout and flatten particularly because it butts into a shoulder on the column.

            Thanks for your help,
            Ray

            Comment


            • #7

              Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

              Candle stand legs

              Ray,

              When I make a candlestand I turn the boss where the legs join first. The rest of the column is just rough turned to a cylinder. My drive center has a set screw in the side to hold the center point. I mark the end of the column where the set screw is so that I can remount it accurately to complete the turning. If you turn the whole column and then try to cut the sliding dovetails by hand you'll wreck the thing clamping it in the vise.

              Put the column in the vise. Take a pair of dividers and set them to the radius of the turning. Step around the outside of the base with the dividers. You'll leave 6 points. Mark every second point, which are the locations of your legs (and they'll be at perfect 120 degree intervals).

              Lay out your flats, using a divider and a small square. Use a large sharp chisel to cut the flats. Then layout the dovetail slots. I find that the easiest way to clear the waste is to bore a series of holes with an auger bit to the correct depth, along the slot you have laid out.

              An auger bit will cut at a specific rate dependent on the lead screw. A few minutes practice will give you the number of cranks you need to bore to the proper depth. Then you clear the rest of the waste with chisels. I made up a template from a scrap of wood and a piece of saw blade. When this will pass along the slot the dovetail is finished.

              Then all you have to do is cut the matching male portion. I use a dovetail plane I picked up at the Tools Of The Trade sale a few years ago. Works great, very precise results.

              If you got more questions, just ask.
              Darrell
              Elitist Neanderthal B*st*rd

              BTW the Galoot Xmas BBQ is next Saturday. If you want a demo on how to cut this joint, let me know...
              Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

                Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

                Originally posted by jlebans View Post
                Gentlefolk,

                I'm looking for a little advice on how to do this with hand tools - don't have, and don't want to have to have a router.

                I'm making a large draw-leaf trestle table and need to make a box/apron/frame thing to support the top and join the table trestle legs.

                The top won't be attached to the legs because it's draw-leaf - it floats. So I wanted to join the cross members of the box to the lengthwise members with stopped sliding dovetails for strength, and to resist racking. I thought the dovetails might work better than mortise and tenon.

                So how, outside of laborious chisel work that will be both heavy and fussy do I make a substantial sliding stopped dovetail to join what will basically be two 2x4's? Can't saw, because it's stopped. Can't plane. Anyone know the answer (or have a better solution)?

                Thanks,

                Jim Lebans
                Hey Jim.

                I like the idea of a DT for this......but rather than trying to cut a sliding dovetail, I'd go with the pared mortise/blind fox tennon (Still dovetail"ish"....just the other way!). This should be plenty strong....and you won't have to be making tools to do it

                I too am curious about milling the flats though....let me know how you decide to tackle that one
                I dream of a better world, one where chickens can cross roads without having their motives questioned.

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

                  Re: Best way to make stopped dovetails

                  Darrell,
                  Thanks for the advice on the candlestand legs. I wish I had found this thread before I turned the column to finished shape
                  I will find a way to clamp it gently and remember for next time.

                  As for the layout, that was exactly what I had worked out, so I will give it a shot once I get the think clamped securly.

                  Thanks for the offer, but I don't think I can make the BBQ. Maybe next time.

                  Ray

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