Get by without power tools
Not everyone can afford to buy the latest power tools and even I cannot afford some of the bigger or more expensive power tools. Luckily there are ways to tackle many techniques by reverting back to basics.
Using a wood chisel might be a bit more time consuming than using a table saw or router for cutting half- or lap joints, making grooves and dadoes, and the like, but with a decent set of wood chisels you can still do a large variety of tasks when using wood. The most important factor when using a chisel, is to ensure that the blade is always sharp. A grinding wheel or Dremel MultiTool can be used to sharpen a chisel blade.
A backsaw or tenon saw is essential if you want to cut your own joints. The rigid steel frame along the top edge of this saw prevents it from bending while you cut, which means straight cuts are exactly that.
Back to basics
Using a wood chisel, backsaw and hammer you can easily make dovetail joints for frames and boxes. And we are going to show you how...
A simple dovetail joint design can be achieved by cutting square blocks out of timber and board.
For this project we used PG Bison Supawood. There is no specific size for the blocks that you will cut out, but try to keep them around cm square.
Our board is 50cm wide and we have divided this into 5 x 1cm square blocks as shown.
Taking into consideration that we are making an interlocking dovetail joint, you need to have two edges marked with blocks that interlock.
Use a pencil to mark the blocks to be cut out to avoid any confusion during the cutting process.
Securely clamp the board firmly in a vice or on a workbench and then use a backsaw to cut down either side of the blocks to be removed - the blocks that have been marked.
While still firmly clamped in place, use the backsaw to do an angled cut diagonally on each of the marked blocks.
After cutting all the marked blocks down the side and at an angle, you will be left with these triangular-shaped stumps.
Now you are going to use a sharp wood chisel and hammer to gently tap away the remaining triangular-shaped pieces left behind.
Don't try and do this with a blunt wood chisel, as this will only damage the finish.
Finally, use 120-grit sandpaper to smooth all the edges.
As you sand, do a test fit to make sure that the interlocking blocks fit together nicely, or whether additional sanding is required.
Finish off by sanding with 240-grit sandpaper.
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