Paul,

I’m playing along at home with your book and dvd’s.

I notice that you’re using the marking gauge for laying out mortises but not for scribing the layout for dovetails.

Your thoughts on the use of a marking or cutting gauge for dovetails would be appreciated.

PS I’m having a ball doing this!

Thanks,

Craig

Hello Craig,

I go against the flow and tradition for this. I think gauge lines are dead ugly except on what might b called vernacular pieces. They are basically bruised wood. On the finest hand work I rarely saw marking gauge lines and so I prefer my knifewall method, which eliminates the need for gauges and guarantees crisp, clean-cut shoulder lines. This is the only method I teach and everyone seems to like it once they do it. Many mass manufacturers now go over their machine joints and so too small makers using routers to falsely represent hand made with gauge lines. I don’t mind traditionalists continuing the practice but I look for no gauge methods when I look for quality.

Paul

2 Comments

  1. Martin on 18 August 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Can you please clarify how the knifewall method works when cutting dovetails?



    • Paul Sellers on 19 August 2012 at 2:47 am

      Yes, simply a method rather than a technique. Because we tend to use chop saws to chop and square the ends of our already four-square stock to length, we can rely on using the adjacent pieces to mark our distances from the end with our fingertips to guide us and a sharp pencil to then give us the depth line. We cut the the dovetials and stop a fraction shy of the pencil line and then use the sharp pointed knife to establish the exact position of the knifewall, which is the exact thickness of the adjacent piece. Now we cut the knifewall between the saw kerfs to establish the pin recess shoulder lines on both sides of the piece but not on the face of the dovetails. With the tails cut, we trace around the tails onto the tailpiece. This time, when we get to transfer the line to the opposite side, we make a small nick on the corners to guide us and again transfer the line to in between the tail recesses. Very simple.



  • Tom Dowling, Olalla, Washington on Cluster Workbench AreaHi Paul, Is there any way I could get the plans to build that nice doll house (2nd picture) for my great grand daughter ?
  • Sylvain on Cluster Workbench AreaIs the nice doll's house (2nd picture) for your grand daughter? Sylvain
  • Sylvain on Cluster Workbench Area"The important thing is that any autist who comes to learn and apprentice with me will feel a sense of belonging and a level of permanence they might not get otherwise elsewhere."…
  • bytesplice on A Machine-free HourPaul, The title "A Machine Free hour" hit a resonance with me, so I thought it would be a good phase to promote hand tools among the those who thing woodworking is too noisy or req…
  • Toni Carré on A Machine-free HourHi Paul, When I read your blog about meeting someone who thinks and works like your self I just had to reply to your comments. Look no further my friend because the exact same thin…
  • Joe on A Machine-free HourNice mirror Paul. Making one for my wife out of scraps of cherry or walnut will delight her. Looking forward to the video. Two other thoughts based on your post. As you close up sh…
  • nemo on A Machine-free HourThat's a very lovely mirror. Such simple elegance. I knew there was a reason I was saving the mirrors from the old plastic-handled ones I threw away. Seems like a nice afternoon-pr…