The cat’s out of the bag: I have started practicing hand-cut dovetails.
I started my practice sessions with this gent’s saw; in retrospect, I should have practiced starting the cuts with a much lighter touch than I used, as I could see a curve in some of the kerfs as the cut went deeper:
I am certain ignorance on my part played a big role, but I just could not get comfortable with the grip on the gent’s saw. As a result, I ordered an E.T. Roberts & Lee Dorchester 8-inch, 21 ppi rip dovetail saw. As soon as the saw arrived I started practice sessions, cutting parallel lines marked on the end grain of the board:
Problem: At first I was unable to remove the protective coating from the steel – Grr! It turned out that this company uses lacquer on their steel, to minimize the risk of corrosion between manufacture and delivery; a few drops of lacquer thinner removed the coating completely, and made a huge difference in performance! My bad, of course. Isn’t ignorance bliss? I understand that most (?) American manufacturers use a wax coating, which is easily removed with mineral spirits.
As I started using the new saw, it seemed somewhat difficult to get the cut started. My intent was to make practice cuts, targetting 1) a pre-set depth, and 2) perfectly parallel cuts. I noticed, as my practice session got longer and longer, it became much easier to start the cuts. And toward the end of the session I was able to start a cut and finish it in seconds. I have read somewhere that this is normal behavior for this type of saw.
However, I will have to practice a lot more, for I noticed two serious problems:
- I have a tendency to overshoot the depth, and
- I can cut better parallel lines when the saw is tilting to the left, as in the last photo.
Next step: Cutting to a line.
I hope I can get better when cutting with the saw tilting to the right. Practice should make perfect – I hope!