Precisely cut handmade dovetails are a thing of beauty and a mark of true craftsmanship. But achieving a perfect joint only comes from careful attention to the process. One key step is the chopping away of waste wood between the saw kerfs. Typically, this is accomplished with a sharp chisel and skilled hands, but there are tricks to increasing your accuracy.

Master cabinetmaker Craig Vandall Stevens is exacting in how he cuts dovetails — and the results show. He achieves his high level of precision partly by using a simply-made, but carefully thought out, chopping block guide. Made from Hickory, this guide provides an accurate 90 degree vertical reference face for aligning the chisel. You can make this block and learn how to use it in just a few minutes. So why not give Craig’s method a try? (5 Minute Woodworking Video)

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The process of hand cutting dovetails and tenons requires many skills. Central among them is the ability to accurately make rip cuts with a handsaw. Your ability to precisely cut to the exacting lines of your layout are key to your success. In some ways, it all seems like a dark art, but with clear guidance, the mysteries can be unraveled.

Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience behind you, I think you’ll enjoy this quick video tutorial on the fine points of using a rip cut hand saw. Master cabinetmaker Craig Vandall Stevens demonstrates some of the secrets to cutting straight and accurate dovetails and tenons, including how to align and start the saw. Craig is not only a master craftsman, he’s also a master teacher who shares some of the tips and tricks to make a handsaw sing. Watch this short video and you’ll be rip cutting like the pros. (4.5 Minute Woodworking Video).

NOTE: With the exception of the saw tooth direction, these techniques apply to both western style backsaws and japanese dozuki saws.

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Filed Under (Hand Planes) by Keith

Learn how to get peak performance out of your hand plane. This video overview will show you how to dismantle a typical metal bodied woodworker’s plane and then clean it, hone (fettle) the sole to optimal flatness, and then reassemble all the parts accurately and confidently. Even old or damaged planes can be repaired, adjusted, and made like new again. It’s easier than you think.

In this quick video, I discuss the parts of the handplane including the sole, mouth (or throat), handle, knob, cap iron, cap lever, cap-iron (or chip-breaker), blade, frog, and various adjustments screws. I’ll then demonstrate the easily mastered techniques that will bring new life into old planes – the same process I used to revive a once rusty and neglected, 1907 Bailey (Stanley Tool Works) #5 Jack Plane I found in a junk bin for $25. Come along for the ride, fix what’s wrong, and you’ll be planing like the pros in no time. (10 Minute Video)

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