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How to Cut Tapered Sliding Dovetails by Hand

Dovetail Plane Not Needed

Lately I've been encouraging my Hand Tool School students to pick up a chisel and "free hand" their joinery a lot more.  I firmly believe that we all need to improve our chisel skills.  It is because this tool is so powerful and not limited by fences or angles or capacity.  It can reach into all kinds of tight spots and provide clear visibility when working to a line.  And after all isn't that all woodworking is?

The tapered sliding dovetail is a brilliant joint that can solve cross grain problems in a project.  It can make a rock solid case with the mechanical connection provide by the dovetail shape.  

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tapered sliding dovetail by hand

But it intimidates people and this has spurned many to look to a specialty tool to help them execute the joint.  The dovetail plane is really a moving filister with an angled sole.  It is a fun plane to use but it is far from necessary and in the case of the tapered sliding dovetail I think the less desirable method for making the tapered tail.  The taper is subtle and if you layout is good nothing allows you to work to that line better than a chisel.  In this video I hope you can see that the chisel does this job so quick and easily and a plane would open the operation up to a lot more guesswork.  

If you want to learn more about sliding dovetails, look below and you will find a link to the live demonstration I did on un tapered sliding dovetails.

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