Woodworker's Guide to Dovetails
Published by Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., East Petersburg PA USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 145
The dovetail joint has been with us for thousands of years. Part of the reason for that is undoubtedly that it is a strong method of joining two pieces of wood.
But there is another reason, too, which is that when it is well designed and well made, it is extremely attractive. Indeed, it is so attractive, that modern woodworkers often take pains to display their dovetail joints where they can be seen by even the most casual observer.
The tyro woodworker, engaged on a first course in the craft, is sure to encounter the dovetail joint and be shown its variants - the through dovetail, the stopped or blind dovetail and the full-blind or secret dovetail.
If the novice is typical, the lessons in making these joints will not prove to be the easiest in the curriculum. Yet experienced woodworkers wonder why anyone has a problem - much like a highly experienced car driver may wonder why a learner finds it difficult to negotiate a corner.
Perhaps, more than many other aspects of the craft, the development of the ability to make dovetail joints requires as much teaching skills as woodworking skills.
The Woodworker's Guide to Dovetails is unusual because its author is not only a well-known woodworker, but also a well-known teacher.
Ernie Conover has written seven previous books on the subject of woodworking as well as four videos and hundreds of articles in woodworking magazines.
When he is not writing, lecturing or consulting, he works in the family business, Conover Workshops, which is a craft school founded by his family in 1980.
Part 1 of the book is titled Understanding Dovetails and covers the anatomy of the joint, plus the essential techniques and tools for making them.
Part 2 deals with hand cutting dovetails, while Part 3 covers machine cutting details. The latter includes discussions on the most commonly used jigs - Keller, Leigh, New Omni and Woodrat.
Much of the information in the book is conveyed by way of more than 200 photographs.
The text is succinct and straight-forward and written so that the book may be used as both an instruction and a reference manual.
Units of Measurement: Imperial and Metric
Part I: Understanding Dovetails
Chapter 1: The History & Evolution of Dovetails
2: Anatomy of the Dovetail Joint
3: Essential Techniques
4: Tools for Dovetailing
Part II: Hand Cutting Dovetails
5: Through Dovetails & Some Basic Techniques
6: Half-blind Dovetails
7: Full-blind Dovetails
Part III: Machine Cutting Dovetails
8: The Basics of Machine-Cut Dovetails
9: Single-Pass Half-blind Jigs
10: The Keller Jig
11: The Leigh Jig
12: The New Omni Jig
13: The WoodRat
14: Finishing the Job:
Appendix I: Dovetail Jigs Compared
Appendix II: Comments on the Akeda Jig
Appendix III: The Router Boss