The dovetail is both a decorative mark of fine woodworking and a strong and long-lasting joint. In a through dovetail, both of the pieces go entirely through one another, leaving the joint visible on the outside.
Now that the tails are laid out, it’s time to cut them. Remember to stay inside the lines. Always secure the board with a clamp and a piece of scrap wood.
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Cut along the guide line
Use the saw to cut along the line. Be sure to stay inside the line. It’s a good idea to cut at an angle so you aren’t cutting the outside face of the board initially.
Cut down to the marking gauge line using steady movements with the saw. Check the other side of the board periodically to make sure you aren’t cutting through the marking gauge line. Cut along the guide line for each tail along the board.
Use a chisel to make a small cut
With the flat end of the chisel facing away, position a sharp chisel into the marking gauge line and apply downward pressure to make a small cut or indentation. Don’t use too much pressure.
Begin to remove waste
Using a narrower chisel gently remove a small layer of waste up to the indentation at the marking gauge line. Just chip away at the material slightly, holding the chisel down with pressure from your thumb.
Use the chisel to chop
Repeat step #4, except now you will use a mallet to make a deeper chop into the wood. Again, don’t hit too hard, but the cut should be deeper than in step #4. Do this down the board.
Chisel out more material
Repeat step #5, except now you’ll be removing more material. Don’t start your chisel at the edge of the board. The chisel should start halfway between the edge and the marking gauge line.
Flip the board and chop the material
Flip the board to work on the inside face. Secure it with a clamp. Follow step #4 to make a small initial cut in the wood with the chisel, along the marking gauge line.
The tails are now cut. It’s time to fit the tails.