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Nick2cd

Dovetail saw questions

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I just bought a veritas 20 tpi dovetail saw. I've been playing around with some scrap oak. I find it somewhat difficult to get the saw started. I was told by a veritas rep to start cutting with very gentle pressure. This works but it's somewhat difficult to keep the saw exactly on a pencil line since I'm applying nearly zero pressure. Any tips?

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A new sharp saw is always harder to start but with practice it will eventually click and become second nature. I tend to use my thumb as a guide for the saw when starting so it stays in the line. I start the saw with no pressure and then gently nibble at the corner until it cuts and then just keep going. Really it is more af a feel thing and it seems tough at first but once you figure it out, it is a piece of cake...

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Hi Nick

 

New saws are lively but it will soon bed in. Is it set for rip or cross cut?

 

Make sure the grip is gentle but still firm enough to hold it straight

 

Point your index finger down the length of the blade 

 

Only start the cut with the front of the saw blade and lower the saw with each stroke rather than trying to cut with all the blade all at once

 

Thumb nail is a good guide

 

Arm movement straight

 

Practice - Practice - Practice - Practice - Practice  ;)

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The best advice I've found for starting hand saw cuts is to "try to not cut the wood" as weird as that might sound.

 

When starting either my dovetail or tenon saw, I pitch the saw up so that the spin is almost vertical, use the very back teeth on the plate, and try to saw as close to the wood without actually touching it. Take short strokes to start and increase your use of the saw plate as your kerf gets deeper into the board.

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You could also try Glen-Drake's kerf starter.  It's a different technique, but it works. Basically a scraper that scores a line the width of your kerf. 

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Okay, I'll chime in.

Firstly, the 20 tpi saw IS more difficult to start than the 14 tpi. Especially on thick material.

Having said that if you only have the 20 tpi, that's not much help.

 

Secondly, I find it helps to draw the entire dovetail. It gives you more lines to follow.

 

Thirdly, it helps to think about where to "miss". Where will it not show if you cheat the saw one way or another.

 

Lastly if you are really struggling, you can always make or buy a dovetail saw guide.
 

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I was taught this technique by tom fidgen in a lesson I took with him last month. It is kinda tricky, but if you can get someone to show you first hand, it makes it a lot easier to learn. He also adjusted my grip, my stance, and my positioning of the work.

Are there any hand wood working teachers in your area?

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I was taught this technique by tom fidgen in a lesson I took with him last month. It is kinda tricky, but if you can get someone to show you first hand, it makes it a lot easier to learn. He also adjusted my grip, my stance, and my positioning of the work.

Are there any hand wood working teachers in your area?

I live in a relatively small town. No instructors of whom I'm aware. We don't even have a woodworking store (rockler, woodcraft, etc....)

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As far as the grip the way I remember (I forget who originally said it) hold it like a baby bird, cradle and guide it but don't pop it's eyes out. This and practice it what helped me and made it a lot easier to cut with far better results.

I made my good DT saw a couple years ago and as Bob said it is tougher to get started but after a little use it quickly becomes easier, if I were you I would grab some scraps and practice, it kills two birds with one stone, but not the baby bird your cradling in your hand!

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As far as the grip the way I remember (I forget who originally said it) hold it like a baby bird, cradle and guide it but don't pop it's eyes out. This and practice it what helped me and made it a lot easier to cut with far better results.

I made my good DT saw a couple years ago and as Bob said it is tougher to get started but after a little use it quickly becomes easier, if I were you I would grab some scraps and practice, it kills two birds with one stone, but not the baby bird your cradling in your hand!

 

Well said.

I love the way you came full circle with the analogy.

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The LV dovetail saws are among the easiest of all the dovetail saws to start a cut. The 20 tpi in particular is an easy-to-start saw. Nevertheless, most starting out would not realise this. Plus new, sharp teeth can catch a little.

 

The reason that the LV saws are easier to start lies with the angle of the teeth. They have a rake of 14 degrees. Compare that with 0-5 degrees of most other saws. However it is possible to effectively increase and decrease the rake of the teeth (making it harder or easier to start) by the way you hold the saw and aim it at the wood.

 

If you aim the saw downwards, you increase the effective angle, which make the teeth catch more...

 

TheVeritas20ppiDovetailSaw_html_m736c552

 

Now, if you aim the saw upwards, you decrease the effective angle, which makes the saw easier to start ...

 

TheVeritas20ppiDovetailSaw_html_m654f295

 

(incidentally, this is one of the reasons we like to use a Moxon dovetail vise to lift the workpiece higher than the bench height).

 

One you have started this way, you can level the saw ...

 

TheVeritas20ppiDovetailSaw_html_m586de7e

 

There is a review of the 20 tpi Veritas dovetail saw here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/TheVeritas20ppiDovetailSaw.html

 

Regards from Perth

 

Derek 

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