Monday, November 10, 2014

Sliding Dovetails With The Stanley 55 "Saw Plane"

The sliding dovetail joint is useful in securing drawer blades to the sides of a chest or connecting legs in a pedestal configuration. It has a mechanical advantage over a dado joint and can draw bowed case sides straight.  The joint could be glued in one area to allow for expansion along the width of a board.

I try to give a hand tool method first dibs over a power tool, but for accuracy and time, sliding dovetails are so much easier with a router. However, there are times when you may still need to resort to hand tools, for example, with narrow stock where the router bit is just too wide.

There are two hand tool methods that I use (these are my methods and may not be the best or classic method) to make the tail/male portion for sliding dovetails.

Firstly, my clunky home-made, but serviceable dovetail plane makes fairly quick work in creating sliding dovetails. For this, I make the female portion first and creep up on the fit when making the dovetail portion. 

Dovetail plane

Another option is using the Stanley 55 "Saw Plane" described in the last post. Many sliding dovetails are cut cross grain. A saw tends to give a cleaner cut than a plane crossgrain, even if the plane is equipped with a spur or nicker, without fear of tearout.

Here is the set up for the Stanley 55 "Saw Plane" for a sliding dovetail:

Dovetail set 1:6 or about 10°

A depth stop adapter, angled 10° from horizontal,
 is attached to the existing 55's depth gauge.
The depth stop is attached to the 10° angled wedge.

Loosen the screws that secure the rosewood fence to the metal portion of the fence to allow the fence to be angled.

While pushing down on the depth stop, slide the fence against the face of the board.
Reach in with a screwdriver while still in postion and tighten the fence angle set screws. This should create a perfect right angle between the bottom of the depth stop and the rosewood fence. The plane body will be angled 10° from vertical. The saw should not be in place yet during this step. 

Remove left fence. Place saw blade on rods.
Slide second runner and tighten up against saw blade. Replace left fence.

Cut to desired depth with help from the depth stop.
Ensure that the left fence is flush against the face of the board when planing/sawing (plawing?)

Now for the setup for a cross grain cut.
Use the straight depth stop adapter.

Cross grain cut.
The cut is essentially the same as cutting a tenon shoulder.

That Rube Goldberg School of Woodworking method was the easy part. Unfortunately, I have yet to come up with a foolproof method to make the housing or female portion to accept the sliding dovetail without an electric router. Has anyone had any luck with the wallet lightening Stanley 444 or the Bridge City HP-6V2 dovetail planes?

I use the sawing with an angled guide method with some success. The one unacceptable mistake is to make the groove too wide.  If the groove is too narrow, it can be widened with a side rabbet plane or some material from the dovetail can be removed with a scratch stock.

Stair Saw angled to 10° using the semi-eyeball method.

Alternatively, this angled fence could be clamped down to serve as a guide.

Chisel out the bulk of the waste.

Router plane

Removing slivers with a Stanley side rabbet plane

Cleaning up a portion of the dovetail with an angled scratch stock.

Decent fit, but certainly not as accurate as machine cut.

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