Dovetail Video – The Basics of the Common Dovetail


We made a video last year on how I cut the common dovetail by hand. It’s simple and easy enough using oak so here is the video:


  1. Thanks Paul.
    Every time I watch one of your basic skills videos I pick up on another of your subtle tricks. The method you showed for refining the fit of the joint seems particularly helpful. It’s just a pity I’ve already cut all of the dovetails in my current project :).

  2. I spent yesterday afternoon doing one Dovetail wrong, and another quite badly. I think I’ll watch this a few times before I practice again!

  3. I watched you create a dovetail joint in front of a small crowd at a Texas woodworking show a decade ago, all the while talking and chatting with the crowd. It inspired me to let dust collect on my power tools and start building a set of hand tools.
    Took two classes and I was hooked. Wish I could get over to Penryn for a refresher. Thanks for your work and generosity.

  4. Thanks for the down-to-earth presentation, as always, Paul. Can you briefly touch on when one may want to chop out the waste as shown versus cutting it out with a fret saw?

    1. People advocate cutting the waste away with either a fret saw or a coping saw but it is not always as easy as it may look. I usually do it on more crude work say for making a bee hive or a tool tote. Evidence shows that all boxes were cut using the chisel method until the fine toothed saws came into being. It’s not always easy to stay above the line or close to it. For it to work most efficiently it’s best to get near to the knifewall or pencil line. if the distance is too great the fibres tend to be wrenched like a root, too short and you run the risk of encroaching on or below the line. I do it for demonstrations because it’s quick and the audience has too short an attention span to sit for more than a few minutes. I would never do it on fine furniture primarily because the process is more important than the project.

      1. Hi Paul it’s ironic that you chose to post the dovetail video. Following seeing your picture of dovetails by a ten year old, I arranged with my 13 & 11 year old Grandaughter and grandson to come to me this Wednesday and Thursday …….to make a dovetail joint!!!


  5. Paul thanks for the refresher course on cutting Dovetails, this is one of the best I have seen, I like your approach and agree with using the fret saw.


  6. Thank you for sharing your craftsmanship, it was a delight to see. Well explained.
    Good focus pulling on the photography.

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