In my previous post I showed the beginning of my journey into hand-cut dovetails. Many of the comments I received addressed the heavy set on the teeth of the new dovetail saw:
Recommendations from experienced hand-tool users addressed one specific solution to reduce the saw set: Stone the saw. Doing this makes it easier to follow a line; and it will also clean up the kerf, and thus leave a much smoother cut.
I took everyone’s recommendations at heart, for I respect the advice of the people who commented and made the suggestion above. Once I got a little time in the shop I prepped some red oak cutoffs and made some test cuts. In between each numbered set of cuts I stoned the saw once on each side with a fine diamond stone, until the cuts were straighter and the kerf looked much cleaner – about dinner time:
Note: The earliest cuts, #1, is on the bottom left, and the most recent ones are at the top-right in the photo above.
For these practice cuts I switched from using dovetail-shaped lines, to straight lines following the grain direction. Based on my experience thus far, my admiration for the craftsmen who can do beautiful hand-cut dovetails has grown exponentially!
I think the dovetail saw needs a little more fine-tuning. As a result, I will have one more session of cut… stone the saw… cut…
By stoning, I don’t mean that if your handsaw is misbehaving, you should go all biblical on it. Instead, I mean there is a way to gently persuade it back to the straight and narrow by using your sharpening stones.
— The Village Carpenter, Stoning your Saw, January, 2008
I chuckled about her opening statement… But at the time I did not realize the importance of this technique.