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Sliding dovetails with the Stanley #79

Several years ago I built a plane for sliding dovetails. This cut the male section. And more recently I built another  to cut the female housing

A while back I began thinking of a simpler plane that could do both male and female joints. In part this was inspired by Terry Gordon converting one of his side rebate planes to cut sliding dovetails.

The weapon of choice for me was the Stanley #79, a double-ended side rebate plane. I liked this as it has a long depth stop and body, both which would provide more registration area than a singe-ended rebate plane. It also enables the plane to be double handed, that is, be altered to plane with the grain.

The only modification needed is to add a wedge under the depth stop to alter the cutting angle from 90 degrees to, in this case, a 1:7 ratio – this is the same as the other dovetail planes I built, and works well with the hardwoods I use. I have a second fence at 1:5 for shallower sliding dovetails.

You do not need to modify the blade or the skate. Just epoxy on a wedge to the depth stop, which will now double as a fence ...

This plane can be used for both male- and female joints.

The following is an example of a parallel dovetail and socket. The joints here are short, which makes this possible. For long joints – the width of a carcase – a better design would be to taper the joint, which tightens up as it closes.

The dovetail here is single-sided. This is sufficient for a drawer blade. The dovetail faces down, where the weight on the drawer blade tightens the joint.

Above – the 6mm wide line for the dovetail.

A rebate 6mm x 12mm is sawn (above).

Set the lower edge depth stop flush against the edge of the board. This tilts the plane at the correct angle. Set the blade for a fine shaving. This is a low cutting angle and will pare away the wood quite quickly. The tip of the blade is left pointed and extends slightly below the body. This works in the same way as the blade of a rebate plane extended a fraction beyond the body to ensure that the corner is removed.

This plane does not stop cutting when it reaches the desired depth (as the original dovetail plane does). This is a manual process, which is described below.

First step is to scribble a contrasting colour on the surface to be removed. This makes it easier to see where- or where not the cut has been made.

Above: the yellow shows that there is a smidgeon at the edge left to be removed.

Transfer the tail to create a pin socket. This is much the same as transferring the tails to the pin board when dovetailing a drawer …

I find that it is easier to use a sharp scratch awl (rather than a knife) to transfer the outline of the dovetail (Tip: sharpen the awl on a fine deburring wheel).

Above: The transferred dovetail along with the outer lines of the housing. The line to the left represents the baseline of the drawer blade.

Note that the dovetail in this example is angled. It is one of several that hold drawer blades in a curved side of a chest of drawers.

The next step is to saw out the sides of the socket …

I chose to use a duzuki to saw the sides of the housing as it enables the sawing action to avoid striking the center panel reinforcement. The sliding bevel was helpful in checking the slope.

A depth gauge was used to check the front and rear marks …

Chamfer the end, both to avoid spelching while chiseling out the waste, as well as a visual guide to the amount of waste to be removed.

Now you can zip the waste out with a paring chisel …

… checking the depth and level as you go.

Now the dovetail plane (aka Stanley #79) is used to tune and clean the angle (above).

And slide them together …

Regards from Perth


October 2016