Woodworker's Guide to Dovetails
How to Make the Essential Joint by Hand or Machine
by Ernie Conover

215 x 280mm

Published by Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., East Petersburg PA USA


ISBN 978-1-56523-387-4

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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 145

The dovetail joint has been with us for thousands of years. Part of the reason for that is undoubtedly that it is a strong method of joining two pieces of wood.

But there is another reason, too, which is that when it is well designed and well made, it is extremely attractive. Indeed, it is so attractive, that modern woodworkers often take pains to display their dovetail joints where they can be seen by even the most casual observer.

The tyro woodworker, engaged on a first course in the craft, is sure to encounter the dovetail joint and be shown its variants - the through dovetail, the stopped or blind dovetail and the full-blind or secret dovetail.

If the novice is typical, the lessons in making these joints will not prove to be the easiest in the curriculum. Yet experienced woodworkers wonder why anyone has a problem - much like a highly experienced car driver may wonder why a learner finds it difficult to negotiate a corner.

Perhaps, more than many other aspects of the craft, the development of the ability to make dovetail joints requires as much teaching skills as woodworking skills.

The Woodworker's Guide to Dovetails is unusual because its author is not only a well-known woodworker, but also a well-known teacher.

Ernie Conover has written seven previous books on the subject of woodworking as well as four videos and hundreds of articles in woodworking magazines.

When he is not writing, lecturing or consulting, he works in the family business, Conover Workshops, which is a craft school founded by his family in 1980.

Part 1 of the book is titled Understanding Dovetails and covers the anatomy of the joint, plus the essential techniques and tools for making them.

Part 2 deals with hand cutting dovetails, while Part 3 covers machine cutting details. The latter includes discussions on the most commonly used jigs - Keller, Leigh, New Omni and Woodrat.

Much of the information in the book is conveyed by way of more than 200 photographs.

The text is succinct and straight-forward and written so that the book may be used as both an instruction and a reference manual.

Photos: Colour

Units of Measurement: Imperial and Metric



Part I: Understanding Dovetails

Chapter 1: The History & Evolution of Dovetails

Chapter 2: Anatomy of the Dovetail Joint
- Wood Properties
- Pins and Tails
- Types of Dovetails
- Choosing a Glue for Dovetails

Chapter 3: Essential Techniques
- True Face and True Edge
- Show Face
- Carpenter's Triangles

Chapter 4: Tools for Dovetailing
- Layout Tools
- Square
- Choosing a saw
- Chisels
- Screw Clamps

Part II: Hand Cutting Dovetails

Chapter 5: Through Dovetails & Some Basic Techniques
- Hand Cutting Through Dovetails
- Gluing-up with clamping cauls

Chapter 6: Half-blind Dovetails
- Hand Cutting Half-blind Dovetails

Chapter 7: Full-blind Dovetails
- Hand Cutting Full-blind Dovetails

Part III: Machine Cutting Dovetails

Chapter 8: The Basics of Machine-Cut Dovetails
- Patents, Trademarks, and Innovation
- Buying and Working with Routers
- Getting the Most From Your Dovetail Jig

Chapter 9: Single-Pass Half-blind Jigs
- The original Omni Jig
- The Festool VS600 Joining System

Chapter 10: The Keller Jig
- Delivery and Setup of the Keller Jig
- Building a Drawer
- Cutting a Wide Pin and Skipping Pins
- The Prazi Chestmate Jig

Chapter 11: The Leigh Jig
- The Leigh D4R
- Using the Leigh Jig
- Making a Solid Wood Drawer

Chapter 12: The New Omni Jig
- The Depth Pod
- Making a Drawer
- Cheat sheets

Chapter 13: The WoodRat
- Router Bits for the WoodRat
- Plunge Bar Kit
- Making a Box
- Building a Drawer

Chapter 14: Finishing the Job:
- Filling a Large Gap
- Scarfing in a New Pin
- Cleaning Up

Appendix I: Dovetail Jigs Compared

Appendix II: Comments on the Akeda Jig

Appendix III: The Router Boss