Dovetail joint in quilted maple.

Dovetail joint in quilted maple.

I have to thank Rob Cosman for this simple test.

This test will not only test your saw but your skills as well.

A dovetail saw needs to cut smooth enough to create a glue joint.  If the saw cuts too rough then when you glue the dovetail joint you will not get a clean joint line, rather you will get a line that needs to be filled.

A great dovetail saw will not only cut fast, but it will cut straight accurate glue lines.

So test your saw!

Take some 3/4″ stock.  Mark a 1″ wide by 1.5″ long rectangular piece on either the left or right side of your stock.

Cut out the rectangle.  Cut the vertical line first, then turn the stock 90 degrees and cut the horizontal.  Make sure the saw tracks on your line. A great dovetail saw cuts perfectly straight.  If you get off your line you will not get back on.  That’s just the name of the game.  Trying to correct will only twist and bind the saw, maybe even permanently tweaking the plate (blade).

Ok, take your rectangle piece, flip it vertically, glue and clamp.  Wait 30 minutes and inspect your joint.  Are you happy with the results?  Even though your saw left some score marks while cutting the joint line should be seamless.

If not try it again.  Focus on gentle even strokes with the saw.  Make sure your body (hips, shoulders, forearm, elbow, and shoulder) is in line with the cut.  Your grip should be light. Let the saw do its job.  Watch it cut against the line.  Is is cutting straight?  Does it curve?  Is it binding?    Keep at it and see if you can make a clean joint line.

If you repeatedly cannot make a clean joint/glue line it is time for a new saw or its time to have your saw tuned by a professional.