Handcutting Dovetails Tool List

Quantity

Size/Grade

Tool or Item

Comments

1

10 to 18 point

Backsaw

Crosscut or rip filing is o.k. Avoid very thin backsaws, especially Japanese for they do not work well for half-blind dovetails.

1

 

Bevel

We often have antique bevels in our store

1

 

Cabinet Scraper

 

1

 

Carvers Mallet

Round wooden type is best, the rubber headed types are too "bouncy. Avoid hammer type mallets. If you use Japanese chisels they are traditionally driven with a Japanese Hammer

1

 

Combination or Try Square

The Starrett Combination square is a good investment.

1

4" to 6"

Dividers

Size refers to length of legs and a small pair is better!

1

12, 14 or 16 oz

Hammer

Standard claw or Japanese are fine.

1

 

Marking/Mortising Gauge

Traditionally marking and mortising gauges were separate tools but now days they are combined into one tool for economy. If you have separate marking and mortising, that is fine.

1

 

Notepad

 

1

chunk

Paraffin Wax

Canning wax is perfect and can be found at most grocery stores

1

 

Pencil

 

1

 

Safety Glasses

You must have a minimum of safety glasses, Most prescription glasses are safety lenses, but need side shields to be true safety. If in doubt bring face shield to go over glasses.

2

8" to 10"

Screw Clamps

Size refers to length of jaw

1

1/4" to 3/4"

Set of Bevel Edge Chisels (Also known as Carpenter's chisels)

Buy an 8 piece set rather than a 5 piece set if you can afford it. It is most useful to have a 1/8" chisel for dovetails. Be sure to buy "bench" chisels and not the shorter "butt" chisel which is commonly all that is available at hardware stores. Japanese chisels (Oire-Nomi) are excellent but expensive. The Japanese drive their chisels with a Japanese hammer and this is Ernie's practice.

1

stick

White Chalk

 

Nice To Have Tools, But Not Necessary

 

1

#3, #4 or #5

Bench Plane

Do not rush out and buy new planes. It is Ernie's feeling that classic planes (found at any flea market) work better and are a better value than new planes. New planes generally require more tuning than a classic. We have reconditioned classics available in our store. They are guaranteed by Ernie to work to perfection and are generally less expensive than new planes.

1

 

Ear Protection

Ear muffs are easiest to use but plugs are fine. If loud pounding bothers you be sure to bring.

  1995 Ernie Conover