Yes, the hand cut dovetail joint is still alive and well. Oh sure — in today’s world of power tools and gadgets, many woodworkers and production shops use jigs combined with routers, bandsaws, tablesaws, or purpose-built dovetailing machines to enable quick and repeatable results. But there remain very good reasons to cut dovetails by hand and many advocates who continue to practice this traditional skill.

No matter what your experience level (whether you’ve tried making dovetails by hand in the past or you are interested in learning something new) there are secrets to getting easier and better results. In this complete two part tutorial, I introduce to you Cabinetmaker Craig Vandall Stevens’s systematic approach. In this “Part One” video, Craig masterfully reveals his logical and precise steps to cutting elegant dovetail pins, quickly and efficiently. You’ll learn how to layout the pins using a marking gauge and bevel jig; saw cut to the lines; and cleanly chop out the waste with a chisel — all with minimal risk and trouble. Master the handmade dovetail. (9.5 Minute Woodworking Video – Part 1 of 2)

For part two in this dovetailing series go to: How to Hand Cut Precision Dovetails: The Tails (Part 2 of 2)

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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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