How do you trim proud dovetails/box joints?


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I try to leave my dovetails and box joints just slightly proud so normal sanding will clean them up. Sometimes they are more proud and it takes a lot more sanding. Is there a better way to knock them down to flush? Is this a good excuse to buy a Lee Valley skewed block plane? 

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Me thinks you're just fishing for an excuse :)  So, I'm all with ya on that LV plane :D

 

I do want to expand more into handtools but also don't want to buy stuff I'll rarely use. That said, I think a LV skewed block plane might have a lot of uses in the shop.

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I like the idea behind skew planes, but I don't like the fact that you really need both of them to get the most out of them.  I think a Lie Nielsen #60 1/2 (low angle block) would really be a more versatile tool if you don't already have a block plane.  Actually, I think a low-angle smoother might be the best tool for that particular job, although I don't have one (yet) so I couldn't say for sure.  Sometimes I use my standard angle smoother and sometimes I use my 60 1/2.  Sometimes I sand if there's just a wee bit to knock down.

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I use a low angle block plane.  I also use it for easing sharp edges, chamfering edges, flushing face frames, flushing dowels, cleaning up endgrain on edges, and even touching up some spots on faces.  I use my l-a block plane on probably every project.

 

The skew is most  beneficial when using it as a rabbeting plane and in particular when used across the grain.  In most other applications you can just skew the plane itself.

 

Like kiki said either the L-N 60 1/2 or the Veritas low angle block plane would be my choice, and probably a little more versatile than the L-A smoother he mentioned.

 

also if you are new to handtools the straight blade will be easier to sharpen than the skewed blade whether you use a jig or not.

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I've used all methods listed above...

For small-scale work (ex. Chippendale Keeping Chest), I've found the LN/LA-Smoother to be the best solution. For larger pieces (ex. Blanket Chest), I've found the LN/LA-Jack works very well... The LA Skew is also effective, but not as good as a 'two-handed' bevel-up plane honed with a fairly low (like 23d) angle primary bevel.

You can use portable sanders, but on high-Janka stock, you risk rounding/dishing the work. This method is not recommended.

Many hand-tool gurus recommend leaving the pins/tails slightly short of the outside face and plane the face flush after removing the clamps. Now this sort of suggestion can digress into a 'pins-first/tails-first' like argument, but the proponents see three 'benefits':

1) The glue-up is simplified -- no cauls required...
2) You have to plane the faces anyway to fit the drawer -- no unnecessary work
3) Many (some argue most, if not all) antique pieces were built this way...

I've tried the approach a few times. It works, but always makes me a bit nervous... It's irrational, but somehow I feel more comfortable leaving the pins/tails proud... Probably has to do with how I was taught... Sort of like I was taught tails-first, so I'm just more comfortable sawing tails-first... But I do recognize that this approach is probably the right way to go...

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I like to use a high angle smoother or my 140 LN block plane it is already skewed its a great little block plane I sometimes use my new sweetheart low angle blockplane because it is so easy to sharpen and to get a good edge on it.  is there no spell checker in this forum  ?

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I don't believe there's a spell checker built in.  I use Chrome for my browser and it has one built in.

as does Firefox (Edit, Preferences, Advanced, General - Check my spelling as I type).

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Many hand-tool gurus recommend leaving the pins/tails slightly short of the outside face and plane the face flush after removing the clamps. Now this sort of suggestion can digress into a 'pins-first/tails-first' like argument, but the proponents see three 'benefits':

1) The glue-up is simplified -- no cauls required...

2) You have to plane the faces anyway to fit the drawer -- no unnecessary work

3) Many (some argue most, if not all) antique pieces were built this way...

Not to mention that it's much easier to plane away face grain than end grain. I would imagine the same holds true for sanding.
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When you use a router dovetail jig sometimes you don't get the board in quite right and you end up with the pins or tails being a little shorter on one end than the other.  Plus coming off the saw the end grain may have some saw marks that need sanding anyway.  So leaving them a little long gives you the ability to deal with all of that.

 

For anything less than 6" high I use my edge sander.  Taller than that I might try doing as much as I can on the edge sander first if I am feeling lazy.  Otherwise I'll start with a plane to get them close.

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I almost always go for flush, and then adjust a little either way.  Most of the time it works out, but even when there is a spot not exactly right, there's not much left to do.  All my block planes have either Burgandy or Dark Blue paint-I'd use one of the 60-1/2s for most such issues.  Sometimes a sharp chisel and scraper.

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