Friday, June 27, 2008

Dovetail Plane

I purchased a double-bladed dovetail plane from Clarence Blanchard of Fine Tool Journal some time ago. Clarence assured me that while the plane is not a showpiece, it is a good user...and he was right!

My current project has sliding dovetails that attach the top to the base. I have cut sliding dovetails only

once before with just a saw and chisels, so I've been looking forward to dusting off my dovetail plane and using it for the first time. Without any sharpening or honing, you can see in the first & third photos how well it cuts pine. Pretty impressive! It will require some sharpening, however, for the curly cherry —a harder wood with ornery grain—that I'm using for the sawbuck table.

The plane is double-bladed to accomodate reverse grain on a board's edge, but since the pine cut so easily, I sheared both sides of the profile (using both blades) without removing the board from the vise or changing my stance. I don't know if that's the "right" way to use the plane, but it worked great.

In the last two photos, arrows are pointing to the areas of the blade that do the actual cutting and the only areas that will need to be sharpened.

The dovetail joint has been around since the ancient Egyptians, 5,000 years ago, but I do not know when sliding dovetails were first introduced and when dovetail planes were first developed. If you happen to know, please email me or post a comment (Gary—nudge, nudge). I'd love to have more information.