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.
With the pins cut, the next step is the pare them. This takes a steady hand, a sharp set of chisels and plenty of patience. Take your time – rushing with increase the likelihood of a mistake. Be sure to clamp the board into place using a clamp and piece of scrap wood. Watch this video!
With the same chisel (or a smaller chisel), remove just the small section up to the marking gauge line. Continue this across the board, removing the small chunk right up to the marking gauge line.
Chisel out the waste
Use a chisel and a mallet to remove the rest of the waste. Don’t take too much wood with one cut. Only cut halfway down. Continue in this manner all along the line of the board.
Check with a square
Use a square to check the level. The outside and inside should both be touching the square. Continue paring to the reference line following by following steps #6 and #7.
Use the paring block to create a guide for pairing the pin
Align the paring block with one of the pins to be paired. Use a separate piece of wood and a clamp to secure the block into position. This will help as a guide as you pare down the pin.
Check the pin with a square
Use a square or ruler to check your pared pin. Look for any daylight between the blade of the square and the body of the pin. Clean out any debris that remains. Continue paring the pins following steps # 8 – #10.
With the pins cut and pared, it’s time to work on the tails.