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  • Workshop Tip - Splinter Free Dovetailing

Workshop Tip - Splinter Free Dovetailing

“Place a strip of masking tape around the ends of your timber when cutting dovetails using a router based dovetail jig”.

I can’t remember where this tip came from, I think it was an old Fine Woodworking Magazine originally, but it’s one of the simplest and most effective tips I have ever been given.

I’ve used just about every form of dovetail jig there is. One thing that they all have in common is that the router bit is inclined to chip the timber out when you’re cutting dovetails. This can be very severe with some timbers and can destroy the effect of your perfect dovetails. It’s usually worse when cutting 'through dovetails', as you can’t do a climbing cut along the face to reduce the chipping out as you do with 'half-blind dovetails'.

Even if you still get some fibres chipping out they will stick to the masking tape and you can keep them and glue them back into place. Without the tape they end up lost in a pile of sawdust on the workshop floor.

You will get a bit of a sticky build up on your router bit after a while, but this can be removed with mineral turps. Don’t use a fabric-based tape such as gaffer tape, because the bit won’t cut through it easily, Masking tape is definitely the best.