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Today I designed a new dovetail template I think everyone will like. I designed it six months ago actually but haven’t had the time to make it. It’s fairly radical I think. Different and highly functional. I also looked over the stars ready for the blog and decided to make the same one we recently filmed. The method remains the same regardless of how many points you choose. The angles that intersect the centre are the parts that change depending on the number of points.
The size of the star is generally governed by the thickness of the wood you use. For a mid sized star I suggest you use wood around 16mm (5/8″). In my last blog post I suggested 10mm but perhaps the extra size will be easier for starters. This is large enough to handle and a good size for practicing the techniques. Either way, both sizes will work and all the cuts remain the same. You will need two pieces of wood if you want contrasting colours. If not, one piece of wood will work just fine. I suggest the width if the wood as around 30mm and 25cm (10″). This will make many stars but the extra length is for holding in the cutting along the segments in the vise.

For a four-point star you will mitre the segments to 45-degrees. An easy formula to establish the angles is to divide 360 by twice the number of points. For a five point star the angle is 36-degrees, six points is 30-degrees and so it goes. For our Texas friends, two angles are needed; 36- and 72-degrees. The 72-degrees is the long angle. On the five-pointed lone star all of the points are the same length and so all of the angles are the same too.

Here is a link to woodworkingmasterclasses.com if you want to watch a video first:

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Use the knife and combination square to establish the cut lines.

Chisel into the knifewall with a chisel to create a step down.

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Saw down at the angle to about 20mm (3/4″). This allows for 4 half facets and so doing this to each section will allow for two full stars.

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Now you must cut the long length of the facet. This will measure 3″.

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Join the short point of the mitre to the 3″ mark and this gives you the line for the long cut of the longer point of the star.

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Cut down this longer line to about the same 20mm depth.

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Use your finger as a guide and run parallel lines 3mm (1/8″)apart with a pencil.

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Cut along each of the lines to separate the segments from the main body of wood.

Now do the same in the opposite colour.

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The shorter facets are cut the same way but the size will be 58mm (2 1/4″) long this time.

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You must now plane the mitres and the best way to do this is with a shooting board as shown.

It is easy to think that these facets must all be exactly the same but don’t worry at this stage if there is variance between the pieces. We can correct that later.

Joint the meeting edges of the stars. Don’t use the machine for this;-)

Upturn your freshly sharpened plane in the vise making sure that the sole is just below the cheeks of the vise tops. Clamping on the cheeks will break the cheeks.

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Place the two opposing facets of the star together and stand them up on the plane sole so that they are perpendicular to the sole. Carefully push the facets across to cutting edge using the less dominant hand to pinch them together and the dominant hand to push the facets forward slowly and CAREFULLY.

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Glue the now matched facets together and pull masking tape across the two facets as shown.

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Place all of the facets aside until dry. This should be about one hour.

While you are waiting you can make a thicknessing jig to plane the facets of the stars.
Any scrap pine will do. Here I am using a section of 2×4.

Place a long star facet on the edge of the 2×4 and mark the shape onto the wood.

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Cut along the edges as shown with a small saws.

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Chisel out the wast to about 2mm deep.

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Use the router to establish the final depth of about 2.5mm.

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This recess now gives you something to hold your facets in. It will hold both the long and the short facets even though the short facets don’t actually fit. Use either the square end or and the pointed end.

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Plane first one side smooth and then turn it over and plane down to the surface if the holder. Don’t plane off too much. Just a shaving of the holder and no more. Use the router as needed to re establish the depth if you think it’s needed.

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Piece the facets together in the order you prefer.

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If the angles are close or perfect, glue the first three together and tape as you go. It. Is good to tape both sides and stretch the tape across the joint line of each added facet. Insert the last one and make sure the joint lines of the last one are good. If not, plane or chisel to fit and glue in place.

Don’t make the mistake above and below, will you?

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We have a free video on making stars on woodworkingmasterclasses.com soon. If you sign in for a free subscription here, you will automatically have access to see it and all of the other free videos offered through the film media. I will let you know when we can slot it in here too.

2 Comments

  1. gman3555 . on 5 December 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for this. Excited for the video to be posted. I’m really curious about the new dovetail template. I Love shop made tools.



  2. Norbert on 31 December 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Dear Paul,
    Thanks for the excellent instructions, I made one as per your video and its really nice.



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