Fair Woodworking

October 25, 2012

1. 2. 3. 4. I declare a bum war!

Filed under: dove tail,Picture issues,Skill development — fairwoodworking @ 3:09 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


Hold on!

Sorry, wrong blog…

No, today I declare war on something else.

Sloppy dovetails.

There and a number of different camps on appropriate dovetail etiquette. Two major camps. The first say that antique furniture is full of dovetails that are gappy, and with saw cuts that blast through the base line. I agree that this is the most historically accurate, but in those days, you hid your dovetails. Today, most people that I deal with don’t know the difference between a box joint and a DT, and they don’t have a clue what is historically accurate, they just see what they see.

The second major camp sees the modern day dovetail as a decorative accent to a woodworking piece. I would say that I am for the most part stationed in camp #2. I’m not trying to reproduce historical pieces, nor do I attempt to re-enact historical techniques. I don’t dress up in pajamas, and work by candle light either. I work in a heated shop, with electric lights, and usually the TV is on as well. The fact that I use hand tools, and like to use traditional joinery does not make me a historian.

So when I look at my dovetails, I don’t look at the gaps as historically accurate, I see them for what they are.


I didn’t intentionally put the gaps there, they appeared there despite my best efforts to avoid them. The gaps may not bother anyone else, and you may even think I’m being too picky, but to me, if it’s part of the decoration, the joint has to be tight. Air tight. It’s no different than I would feel with inlay work. If I decorated a box with inlay (not that I’m capable of that yet) I wouldn’t be happy with gaps, so why would I with dovetails. If I had a picture professionally framed, I’d not be happy paying for a frame with gappy miters, so why would I expect anyone to be thrilled with anything other than tight dovetails?

I have a house full of practice boxes. A number of them were not intended to just be practice, they started out as gifts. But when I was done, I didn’t feel like they had what it takes to be truly desirable gifts. Yes the receiver would value them because they knew I made it, and put a lot of effort into it, but were they really able to justify its value based on its own merit? In my eyes, they do not.

So Dovetails!

I’m callin’ you out!

I’m returning to the old dovetail challenge until I’ve got them beat. I need to get better, and then I need to get faster.

But mostly, I just need to get better.

I’m not in a race.

Oh, and by the way. If you are wondering what’s up with the bum war reference. It was a game we played as kids involving a trampoline. I don’t remember the rules, but it seems like it always involved one of us crying in the end.

I don’t know…


1 Comment

  1. Good read. Gaps are okay as long as they don’t get so big that they have their own gravitational pull 🙂


    Comment by ChrisHasFlair — October 25, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: