Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Tag: dovetails

Dovetails on the Table Saw?

I’m currently building a Mike Pekovich inspired tool cabinet.  Mike built his cabinet for a Find Woodworking video series.  In the video series, Mike uses a custom ground blade to cut his dovetails on the table saw.  The idea is brilliant.  Tails are dead square, and you zip through them with lightning speed.  Additionally, the kerf of your table saw blade is the only thing that limits the size of your pins.  And because you only have to layout the tails on one board, you save a load of time on layout.

Consequently, I remembered meeting an associate from Ridge Carbide Tool at a recent woodworking show.  Like Forrest, they make various saw blades right here in the United States.  So, I checked out their website, and discovered they made dovetail table saw blades.  I placed an order, and was pleasantly surprised when the saw blade arrived just a few days later.

I purchased an 8-degree blade for left-hand tilt saws, but Ridge provides many other options.  They grind the bevel on one side, so you’re able to get deep into the corners of your tail boards.  This reduces that amount of paring required.  Additionally, the blade seems very well made.

Using the blade is simple.  Mark your pins.  Then, adjust the angle of your table saw to match the angle of your blade.  Next, adjust the height of the blade to baseline of your tail boards.  Finally, make a few test cuts, and cut your tails.  I like narrow pins, so I just align the blade to the center of the pin mark.  Then, I flip the board and align the kerf in the tail board to the kerf in my auxiliary sled.

Since I made an auxiliary fence specifically for tails, I mark the location of each pin on the fence.  I use the mark as a reference for the rest of my boards.  This keeps me from having to mark my pins of every board.

At the moment, I still cut my pins by hand.  However, that may soon change.  I am very happy with the Ridge Carbide’s product and the process of cutting dovetails on the table saw.


The Tale of the Tail Jig

Jig1My handsaw skills might be lacking, but I do enjoy cutting most of my joinery by hand. However, when I have a bunch of identical joints to cut, I turn to jigs.

I recently discovered this little jig for cutting tails on the bandsaw. It’s little more than a wedge with a stop at one end. To make it, you simply cut a wedge to your desired angle, cut off the tip, flip it around and glue it back on. To use it, you register your board on the stop and slide the opposite edge along the fence of your bandsaw.


The beauty of this jig is that you can make several cuts without adjusting your fence. Start by marking out your tails on  one end of your board.  Using the jig, adjust the fence of your bandsaw to line up with your first cut. Assuming your tails are symmetrical, you should be able to take two cuts from each end of your board. You end up only needing to adjust the fence once for each tail you’re cutting.  Dead square tails are just icing on the cake.

What jigs do you use to supplement your handtool work?