This video is the second half of a two part series on dovetail joinery. In Part One,  How To Hand Cut Precision Dovetails: (The Pins) furniture maker Craig Vandall Stevens demontrates his preferred method for cutting this joint, first by cutting the “pins”. In this final segment Craig completes the dovetailing process by cutting the “tails” to fit the already prepared pins. (9 Minute Woodworking Video – Part 2 of 2)

(36) Comments   


Mark Shymanski

Great videos. Thank you for the clear explanation.


This is an enjoyable series with Craig Vandall Stevens.

Even though I typically cut tails first, Craig’s methods are great to see. I like his tip about leaving a foot for support when chopping away the waste on the second side of the joint.

I also find that the Japanese tools (dovetail saw and marking gauge) are easier for me to use. I’m going to have to look at some Japanese chisels to round out my collection!

Great work on the videos!

–Mark (

Thanks for your comment on my blog Keith. These videos are perfect and just what I was after. Will definitely use this technique on my next project. Thanks for sharing it. (

Interesting that Craig chops the waste on the tail section with his chisels, whereas most people say to just saw the waste off. I suppose this way is more accurate, albeit more time-consuming.

Will definitely try this technique on my next set of dovetails!

I can see how someone might think this is more time consuming, but I can also see how it would be enjoyable as you’re working closely with the wood.

I must admit I used to be all about efficiency, but after I salvaged a rusty Stanley hand plane and cleaned it up, I’ve appreciated taking a breather and slowing my pace and enjoying the process of woodworking just as much (or more) than the finished product.

Craig definitely reinforces this with the video and educates while showing the dovetail process in a clear, articulate manner. Thanks for making this video available Keith!


Good Video! I have a dovetail jig and can not find how to use it properly to make drawer ends. Can you help me? Thanks

Keith’s Note: There are a number of different types of jigs that are available. Each type has a different method of use. If you know the brand name, search online for instructions for that particular model. Best of luck. Just a side thought — router made dovetailing is a subject for a future video. Stay current on all my new video releases by subscribing to my email or rss feed updates. Thanks for watching.


Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Terry

Keith’s Note: Yes. Our hats off to Craig. He’s a fantastic mentor.

Jamshed Sethna

Excellent explanation. Will be very helpful for my next project.

Chris D

Not just this one video on dovetails (the first and only ones I’ve seen so far), but the entire site has a feel to it which makes me wonder: how long for free and why is it such a well kept secret? The quality is superb, and the speed is in keeping with the quality. I look forward to coming back and viewing/learning much much more! Regards, Chris D, – near Montreal Canada

Frank S

Just viewed my first video.I enjoyed it. I will watch as many as i can. Thank you for this web site. It will help me learn more about wood working.


Just watched this video and picked up on a detail I’ve been struggling with but couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Good stuff. Thanks.

Scott Slinkard

Just when you think you have watched every woodworking video online, you luck out and find a gem like
The resolution is the best there is. The videos are right to the point and not a second is wasted.
I will be watching every single video you have to offer.
This is where I say THANKS.
Scott Slinkard


I’m sure this will be very useful. I have a month to make a box for my girl. For her to put things in that is. A gift for a gift. Thanks a lot.

Thomas Balsa

My first visit to WoodTreks. I shall return.

A wonderful production. Enjoyed a couple of videos. Thank you.


Tom Saunders

Very good demo. As a first time hand cutter of dovetails, the video is a great help. The advise of undercutting is great. I think my joints will improve.

Charles Creagh

I can’t seem to get any of your videos. What am I doing wrong?

Keith’s Note: Please refer to my troubleshooting page at: – I hope this helps.

George Lerose

Good Demo. Very helpful and clear.

Oneil Long

Great video, I am not as fearful of dovetails now. Thanks a lot.

This a very helpful video series for making hand cut dovetails. Thanks for sharing. This is by far the best video that I’ve seen dealing with this topic.


Wow! That was my impression when I finished my first dovetails and the pieces fit together nice and snug. I figured that it would take quite a bit of practice before I could make my joints fit the way Craig’s fit together. This was an excellent video. Very well filmed.

I enjoyed all of Craig’s videos. The videos show how he has a connection with the wood and the tools he uses. It is what I am trying to achieve.

Thanks Keith. Your videos are an inspiration in making this hobby I am learning more enjoyable.

Bill Harbison

I enjoyed the hand cut dovetail video.

Rick Gesualdo

Excellent videos – Part I & II Dovetailing. I will give (Craig’s) method a try this weekend.


Mike Matkin

Great video – It took me back to my school days and making dovetails for the first time. I was wondering if it is OK to use a metal hammer with chisels. I was always taught to use a woden mallet?

Keith’s Note: Craig uses a metal hammer. His interest in the Japanese approach may influence that choice. From my view, it seems Craig’s metal mallet is smaller and perhaps more accurate, more delicate than many wooden mallets. Craig’s is made for use with a chisel. In a pinch you can use any old metal hammer but if your chisel handles are wood, you might more easily damage/splinter a wooden handle, especially if the chisel is made from cheap materials and inferior wood. Craig works with precision and care. He doesn’t force things. So metal hammer works for him and is matched to the chisel. In the end, I can’t say one way is better than the other. What do you like? .


Thanks for the great videos, I have become addicted to this site! Wondering, where does craig get the marking pencil that he uses? The point is very thin and accurate. Thans again!

Keith’s Note: Craig made the marking gauge show in the video. Nice isn’t it?

Mike Matkin

Hi Keith – Thanks for the reply. I have never used a metal hammer to chisel with so I guess its wooden for me.


Ben Jarry

Thanks for these videos, I can’t stop running from my bench to my computer and back, every time…
A (maybe dumb) interrogation : what is the green circle in the vise, on Craig’s bench ? Level, thermometer anything else ? I’m quite curious…
Thanks again,

Keith’s Note: To save some steps, perhaps you might add a PC to your required shop tools. It seems we are all headed that way aren’t we :-). Regarding the green circle — without more careful investigation, I’d say it is probably the benchmaker’s mark.


Enjoyed the videos on hand dovetailing. I’ve tried a few joints using pine and cedar. Having terrible luck due to tear out. I’ve tried re-sharpening the chisels and still have tear out problems, especially with the pine. Any advice on that? Also, for layout on large panels (ie, greater than >12″ wide) is there any rule of thumb on how many dovetails relative to the size of panels? Or does one just arbitrarily place them where ever?

Keith’s Note: Good questions. Your tear-out issue is not uncommon, especially when learning to dovetail using pine or other very soft wood. Practicing on pine raises the difficulty level a good deal. It’s almost like trying the cut a dovetail into a sponge. There just isn’t enough support in the wood fibers to give you the density you need to cut into the grain. So if your chisels aren’t razor sharp and your technique perfected, you’ll get tearout with pine. My suggestion is to practice using soft maple, which is generally easy to find and is forgiving to work with. (Or if you have some scrap genuine mahogany, it’s even easier to get great results.)

On the matter of how many dovetails per foot of joinery… We could probably write a book on how to layout dovetails :-), but in general, design is often a matter of aesthetics as much as structural integrity. You may have seen the many varied patterns and layouts on traditional/historic drawers and casework. Technically, an engineer could probably calculate the optimum number and shape for the tails and pins on any given job for a given wood species, but in practice, most artisans just go with their gut. Dovetails are such a strong joint that you can get away with a less than optimum structural design. For starters, consider one dovetail per 1″ or 1.5″.


Great dovetail videos! At the end of Part 2 you listed another video by Craig titled “Fix Problems Dovetailing Fit and Alignment”. I have not been able to find this video on the site. Is this a future episode?

Keith’s Note: That’s a future topic. It’s not available right now. Thanks for asking.

Ken Day

The best instruction I’ve come across. Calmly explained, and idiot proof.

Stuart F in England

Very good and detailed instructions on hand cut dovetails, most impressive.


At the end of (How To Hand Cut Precision Dovetails: The Tails Part 2 of 2) It says that there is a video on: “fix problems dovetailing fit and alignment”. I cant seem to find that video.

Keith’s Note: I’m sorry to say that that video is not currently available.


Great video and great site. Thanks.

I’ve got a question for Craig. Is there any particular reason you chop the waste from the tail instead of sawing? Since you’re removing waste from the edge of the board it seems to invite the use of a saw.

Keith’s Note: Craig’s method is very controllable and precise. Of course, there are different ways to come at this. So as always, I like to say, try several ways and decide which method works for you.

Greg A

Great videos! I’ve been watching them all weekend. The dovetailing technique looks foolproof and I’m eager to give it a try. I just have one question about scoring the outside faces of the piece. You’d have plane or sand them once it’s glued up. Wouldn’t a pencil line be better on the outer faces?

Keith’s Note: A marking gauge or knife is very precise and generally more accurate than a pencil line. It will also leave a micro-groove for registering an accurate chisel alignment. This score line, for some, might be unsightly, but for others, it’s a sign of hand craftsmanship that can remain on the finished work. One more thought – some drawer installation methods (methods that eliminate drawer guides) will require that the outsides of the drawer be planed to precisely match the inside of the cabinet carcass. This is an extremely precise fit. In this case those score lines will often be removed in the process of “final fitting” the drawing.

jerry tekell

Love your work. Could you recomend the best dove tail machine for routering? JT

Keith’s Note: Gee, wish I could but I don’t have a specific recommendation on that.


Wonderful to watch these videos. His care and diligence have motivated me greatly.


This is all good and well, but I want someone to show me how to us my new Porter Cable dovetail jig. Cannot do a single thing with it. — JEarl