I've finished setting up the dovetail layout discussion by talking about the tools, basic set up, and design ideas. Now we're starting on the meat 'n' taters of how I go about laying out varying dovetail joints. If you are just joining in and want to catch up, you can find all the posts collected HERE.
As I've mentioned before, at one point I gave up learning to cut dovetails. I swore them off like I'd just graduated from a joinery rehab program. As I understand it the real challenge isn't rehab itself, but staying away from life's temptations after rehab. I guess when it comes to being a card carrying member of JA (joiners anonymous) My temptation, provided by Master Frank Klausz, proved to be too strong for my resolve. The article he published on dovetail layout and cutting in the October 2005 issue of Popular Woodworking saved me from a life devoid of my favorite and most satisfying woodworking technique.
Thank you Mr. Klausz.
Here is the basics of the technique I pulled from that article. It produces wonderfully even, strong dovetails. Frank is known for his stocky, broad pins and tails, and I really it tends to lean that way I'm making my own design decisions
When the stock is wider than what I'm working here, you repeat this step, measuring to the center as many times as it takes to get the divisions correct. There's no magic number for correct, pay attention and your eyes will guide you.
It is very, very important to make sure you mark the waste on your "to be" dovetails. I know ego can sometimes sneak in after deciding you're proficient. Do not fall for that trap, it only ends in tears and frustration. The few seconds of time you take to mark your waste can make a world of difference later, especially if you have to re-prep a section of stock from scratch because of this little failing of arrogance.
I do speak from experience and tears when I say things like this.
The design of Frank's layout looks very strong and even, It is a great take on the joint that does not have to take center stage, in fact in a figured wood or fine design, this layout will easily slip into the back ground and not overpower. Strong, regular, and traditional, this is a good place to start our exploration. Stay tuned for more layouts soon.