Cutting A Sliding Dovetail
When doing a sliding dovetail we use a Porter Cable Dovetail Jig. It keeps us from changing set ups on the shaper, it works just as well on a router table or shaper, we will show that later. Here is a few tips we use when cutting the sliding dovetail.
Porter Cable Dovetail Jig
We use a jig for the sliding dovetail; I have seen them cut by hand. I am not that good so I cheat just a little. This is not the best jig on the market for cutting a sliding dovetail, but it does a good job. This template cuts sliding and half blind dovetail, you can get another template to cut the through dovetail.
In order to use this jig you will need to install a 3 /4, bushing which will guide inside the template to cut the socket and to the outside to cut the tail. You can pick up the base and bushings at Wood Craft, Rockler, and MLCS just to name a few. They can be used on other projects not just the sliding dovetail
Cutting the Socket
You need to cut the socket first so you can fit the tail to it. There is two ways to set this up , you can squire the template to the jig or you can mark your piece then center it inside the template and measure both ends to make sure it square. For demonstration I used the edge of the template to square it. Once in the jig I would suggest putting a small block on both sides to help reduce tear out. Then set the router inside the template and slowly pull the router through. I try and pull to one side when I am cutting.
Set up Block
When cutting tails first I set the template flat down on the base of the jig. I do this because the template will wobble when it’s off the base and will cause my cuts too high and low on the tail. You can put in a block of wood the same thickness of the socket you just cut under the template to hold it steady, but I like it on the base. Now we will set the depth, I use a set up block that I had made and marked where I need to set the template for this thickness of wood. I did this by setting my template out a little more than I needed; started cutting then slowly moved the template back until the tail fit tight. Then put in a block and marked a line where I needed the template to set and wrote the thickness of wood and what side was to the outside. You will need a block for every thickness you use. Tip: paint the block so you don't through it out with the scraps.
Fitting The Sliding Dovetail
When cutting the dovetail, you need to look at the shoulders to make sure they are the same on both sides of the tail. This will make a square fit. If they are not the same, then you will need to square up the dovetail jig a little more.
Finishing the Sliding Dovetail
This sliding dovetail was cut out of walnut and fit nicely, a little more sanding and it’s finished. The Porter Cable Dovetail jig will work out great if you don't have a router table. But buy the upgrade it comes with other templates for the through dovetail for less cost than buying the template by its self
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