Setting The Bevelgauge Angle

1. Draw tick marks 6 in. and 8 in. from the end of the board. Next, mark a point 1 in. from the edge. Connect these points to create angles with ratios of 1:6 and 1:8.

2. Set the bevel gauge against the board and adjust to the desired angle.

2. Set the bevel gauge against the board and adjust to the desired angle.

principles apply. There is much debate over whether to cut the pins or the tails first, but I always cut the pins first. I find it is easier to square up the surfaces of the pins and use them to scribe the tails, rather than the other way around.

Shoulder lines are the first layout marks placed on each piece and reflect the thickness of the piece being dovetailed into it. Set a marking gauge to the exact thickness of the sides and scribe a shoulder line on all four edges of each end of the back. If the sides are the same thickness as the back, scribe the ends of the sides with the same gauge setting. If the sides are not the same thickness as the back, reset the gauge and scribe the shoulder lines to the thickness of the drawer back. By setting the gauge to the exact thickness of the pieces and cutting accurately, you eliminate a fair amount of hand-planing and sanding.

The lap of the pin board (drawer front) should be 3/32 in. to 3/t6 in. A lap thinner than that can be weak and may break when you chop between pins. Remember to use the inside face of the drawer as your reference face. If the drawer front is 3A in. thick, set the marking gauge to 9/t6 in., leaving a 3/t6-in. lap.

Set the marking gauge to scribe a line in the end of the board. Be sure to leave 3/32 in. to 3/t6 in. as the lap. Scribe the ends of the drawer front as well as all sides of the ends of the tail boards. Change the marking gauge to match the thickness of the tail board and scribe this line only on the inside face of the pin board.

Place the pin board in the vise with the inside surface facing you. Doing it this way consistently helps ensure that you orient the pins correctly over and over again. To help students orient the pins correctly, I tell them to remember "fat side or wide side, inside." Mark the angle of the pin on the end grain with the widest part of the dovetail on the inside of the drawer. To save yourself work later when you're chopping out the tails, make sure your pins are only as narrow as the thinnest chisel you own.

For both through- and half-blind dovetails, both edges of the pin board should have what are called half-pins. These half-pins can be up to the same width as the full pins but have the angle on only one

Continue the lines around the corner. Use a square to mark out the pins to a shoulder line that represents the thickness of the drawer side. Mark areas to be removed with an X.

Follow the lines. To cut out the area between the pins, use a fine dovetail saw (15 tpi or more) and cut to both lines.

Chop out the pins. Begin by chopping down just inside the shoulder line, then chip away the stock with horizontal blows. Pare to the shoulder line and clean up the sides.

Continue the lines around the corner. Use a square to mark out the pins to a shoulder line that represents the thickness of the drawer side. Mark areas to be removed with an X.

Follow the lines. To cut out the area between the pins, use a fine dovetail saw (15 tpi or more) and cut to both lines.

Chop out the pins. Begin by chopping down just inside the shoulder line, then chip away the stock with horizontal blows. Pare to the shoulder line and clean up the sides.

Saw away what you can.

The edges of the sides can be cut close to the line. Pare away what little Is left using a sharp chisel, and chop out the area between the tails just as you chopped out the waste between the pins.

Mark out the tails. Place the drawer side flat on the bench and clamp the drawer front at a right angle. With the end of the side flush to the end of the lap, mark the tails using a sharp pencil.

side. The half-pins help keep the edges of the tail board from cupping. Space the pins by measuring and dividing the board evenly. My way is quick and simple. I use the width of my index and middle fingers to mark the space between the centers of the pins. These marks are made on the inside edge. Then I mark 3/i6 in. to each side of the center mark of each pin, to end up with pins that are 3/s in. wide (fat side).

Use a bevel gauge to draw the angle on the end grain for each pin. The angle should be approximately a 1:6 to 1:8 ratio. Use a square to connect the line and continue it down the shoulder line. The angle line and this square line are the only two lines you need to cut the pins (or tails).

Mark the area to be removed with an X and use a fine dovetail saw (15 tpi or more) to cut to the line. Saw the pins, making sure not to cut into the lap or the inside of the drawer. Chop out the cheeks of the pins that cannot be cut with the saw. Clamp the pin board inside-face up to the workbench. Start away from the shoulder line and alternate chisel blows between horizontal and vertical. Do not undercut the lap or shoulder too much. Place the board back in the vise and pare (trim) the cheeks. Use the back of the chisel to

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