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Hi everyone how's it going. I have a problem sometimes understanding a concept or see it in my head. I have been doing ww for about 3 yrs now and since I retired and bought myself a Grizzly contracter saw I have been down my basement everyday. Here is my problem and yes it has to do with dovetails.

Laying them out to be more specific. If you have any size wood like a 5 3/8" wide stock. Now please tell me how do you lay out the Dovetails getting them symetrically on that piece of wood? I know there are some jigs where you can sight the center leaving equal pieces at each end. Does the wood have to be a certain size all the time? Like cutting with hand tools and you have one of those handy dovetail marker, where do you start on that piece of wood


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One way I've seen is to simply angle your tape (or ruler) so that you end up with a nice round number to work with. So, for example, using your 5-3/8, angle the rule a bit so that you measure 6 inches diagonally across the board. Lets say you want 3 tails, so you go to the middle of each tail (so, in this example, each 'tail' has 2 inches, so tail 1 is from 0 to 2, so the middle is at the 1 inch mark). In this example, you'll end up with marks at the 1, 3 and 5 inch positions, but at an angle. If you then take a square across the endgrain, and then extend those 3 marks to the end of the board, you will see that you are now nicely divided your tails. Now, just measure out from these 3 lines for the width of your tails as normal, say 3/4" off each side of these center lines, adjusting as appropriate for the look you want. Personally, I like 'big' tails to accentuate the hand cut look, but that's completely up to the user. The key to this method is getting the tails centered evenly, then the size is really secondary.

Hope this is useful..



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Also, don't sweat the layout too much. I start out by figuring out how many tails I want, and then use the ruler trick Canadian Bear mentioned to pick roughly the center of each tail. Then I just use my dovetail layout square to mark tails of the general width I want. I don't measure each tail or ensure each is perfectly centered, I just eyeball it. Part of what makes hand cut dovetails appealing is that they are imperfect and don't look like they were made with a machine.

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I have used a ruler, but I tend to fall back on the divider method more now because I can see the gap between my tails better that way. However the reality is I often resort to the Klausz method like Bois recommends above. Figure out how many tails I want then eyeball the spacing. Often find the center and mark a tail then find the center of the 2 outside pieces and so on and so on. Fast and loose and dang easy.

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