Carpentry Video: Dovetails

I hadn’t done anything on my YouTube channel in several years: five or so, to be precise.  Basically, I got bounced from teaching history and writing to teaching Latin. So creating videos about teaching history or writing took a back-burner to making videos about teaching Latin… but I never really got into that, either, because I also picked up a job teaching computer science and computer programming.  Oops.  And on top of that, I gained additional responsibilities running the Design Lab at my school. Perhaps you’ve read me when I run my keyboard about the subject?

Design education in the education world has been in the news lately.  A colleague’s blog reposted a New York Times article a few days ago.  And yet, when I look around at what’s going on at other schools, I find that a lot of teachers don’t have much hands-on experience with the materials or the tools. Even I am still at the point of doing basic exploratory activities more often than not, as I did with automata, and with electricity.

And so it’s proving with carpentry.  My dovetails are terrible.  But how many of my colleagues in other schools know enough carpentry to cut a good dovetail? How many have cut a dovetail at all?  I think this is one of the things that distinguishes the Design program at my school from a good many other places — the emphasis is toward hands-on learning, hands-on thinking, and hands-on process.

And that has to include my own learning process, too.

6 comments

  1. You’re interests seem as eclectic as mine! You seem more… logical/mathematical than I, however. Anyway, really enjoyed the video, made me start itching to go give it a shot, even though I’ve hardly ever run a saw in my life. Thanks!

  2. Your dovetails are a little rough looking I’ll give you that, but overall you have the basic idea down. Your joint has all the proper mechanical advantage of any other dovetail out there. The only thing that makes them better from here is practice. Layout is huge, start using a knife over a pencil and your joints will improve. Are you cutting them with power tools or by hand?

    • I cut some of these by hand and some with a scroll saw. I think I prefer by hand, although I don’t think a coping saw is the best tool to use. I think that a sharp chisel would do better. The knife is a good idea.

      Thanks for the comment. Are you a frequent woodworker, yourself? What joints or techniques should I be practicing alongside of dovetailing?

      • It really depends on what you want to build. I personally build mostly beehives and hive stands. I am starting to branch out just a little bit. If you want to learn some basic joinery, you should try mortise and tenon, rabbet or rebate if your across the pond, those are probably my go to three dovetail included. There isn’t much you can’t build with that skill set. I personally am partial to cutting by hand. To each their own though. Cutting wood is cutting wood at the end of the day. Watch Paul sellers on YouTube. Watching him really helped me improve.

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