Or how much I hate my coping saw and my inability to saw with it.
I really have tried the coping saw method. It’s just not for me. I also refuse to buy a 100 plus dollar fret saw, which would be more than all 5 or 6 of my old distons combined, just to go faster. So instead, again, I follow the sage method of Mr. Sellers. In all his dovetail work I see him use a knife wall and then slowly chop and chisel. Flipping the board to go half way through from both sides. Works fast enough for me and I don’t have to use curse words for sawing into one of my tails. Now here’s the glamour shots.
Step 1. Knife in the waste using the face edge of the board. Lay the actual pin board flush to the edge. Use your fingertips to ensure the flushness. Reach in with a marking knife and make a nick like your trying to reach almost under the pin board. Then use your square to mark just the lines under the waste going around both sides while registering your square on the face edge and face. Some people I’ve seen just mark all the way across or use a marking gauge. My work is bad enough so I don’t want a line across the tails making it look worse. Also, go shallow with the first knife lines and then go back in and deepen them. Less tendency to wander this way.
Step 2. Go in with a small chisel, mine is 8mm, and make a tiny cut to relieve the edge of the knife wall so it doesn’t move too far back. I’m working in pine and my wall will compress if I don’t do this. If the wall moves back too far this will show as a gap.
Step 3. Chop and chisel out the waste. Only go half way from each side. If it’s pine, take shallow cuts or you will blowout the end grain inside the pin socket from chopping down too aggressively. Don’t ask how I know this. I’m not telling. Eventually the waste pops out. Try not to force it out. You may have to push it back in from the end to get them to slide out.
I used a small screw driver to tease out the waste.
One more case side to do and then on to pins… whoppie!
Ps. I don’t have to tell you to sharpen up your chisel and strop it before you start right? I mean I sharpen up before I tie my sneakers in the morning. Another lesson I learned was that it is really true that sharp tools make the job easier. For me it let’s me focus in making the cuts. Before I got the sharpening religion I would be distracted from the work. I would be thinking about why my cuts were off or why I had to push so hard or do I need a bigger mallet. It never occurred to me that if my chisel was sharp I wouldn’t even be thinking about it I would be focused on the wood I was trying to remove. Now I sharpen alot and keep the strop on the bench next to me and touch up often. With the strop touch up I find I dont have to go back to the stones during an operation very often. Anyhow, just food for thought.
Thanks for reading.