Help cutting dovetails for drawers?

Thanks for the great DVD on Dovetails!  I am a novice at handcut dovetails so please help me understand.

Since you instruct to make the saw cut to the left or right of the line, why scribe a line with a knife rather than a sharp pencil line?  It is much harder for my old eyes to see and you don't let the saw blade follow the scribed line anyway?

-John G. 

Medina, OH 

Our Expert

Thank you for the compliment on the DVD. I understand the issue with your eyes; my eyesight is not as sharp as it once was. However, I don't recommend that you use a pencil instead of a knife to make the layout lines. The saw actually does follow the layout line; the kerf is either to the left or the right but the saw teeth touch the line. Pencil lines have thickness and are simply not as precise as a knife line.

To overcome the weakness in my eyes, I wear reading glasses when creating detailed work such as carving or cutting dovetails. I also place a task lamp close to the work. The additional light is a big improvement. You might also try using a very sharp pencil to shade the knife line and make it easier to see.


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