With the release of our 1:4 Dovetail Template, which is now in the shop alongside our slightly older 1:6 & 1:8 combo Dovetail Template, I’ve received a few emails from folks lamenting there’s no way on our site to tell the difference both in how they look and how the resulting dovetails perform.
The second is easily answered: they perform the same – or close enough. Each of those three angles – and just about anything in that general vicinity, will outlast you – even if relatively poorly cut. Just look at pre-industrial drawers if you don’t believe me; on drawers that are still working just fine after more than a century, some of the dovetails look as if they were gnawed out by a beaver.
The first is fairly easily – if not particularly elegantly – answered, too. Above is a corner of joints, two each per angle, that I hurriedly cut using some scraps from the burn bin. Note that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the look of the 1:6 (9.5°) and 1:8 (around 7°) joints. I prefer the 1:6, simply because it’s what I first cut, and have done so pretty much ever since; my wrist now has that angle ingrained. So while it felt weird to cut the 1:4 (around 14°) and 1:8, it’s certainly doable. If you can mark the line, you can saw a line.
But I also think it’s kinda funny that we sometimes fret over those angles. Do you always cut exactly on your lines? I don’t – not for the first half of the joint (in my world, that’s usually tails). The second half of the joint must (ideally) perfectly match the first half, no matter what the angle. So if my wrist tilts to, say 10° or 8° instead of 9.5° on one side of a tail, oh well. (That said, to me, the 1:4 looks a bit hefty…’cause I’m such a delicate flower.)
Anyway, above, you can see the difference in the template angles we offer. Both templates are in stock as of the moment I published this (and if we run out, I’ll order more!). Click here for the 1:6/1:8 (my favorite), and here for the 1:4 (Chris’s favorite).
p.s. Why doesn’t the 1:4 offer, say, 1:5 on the other end? The square end of the tool allows you to also use it as a saddle square (and to not get turned around by two similar-looking angles).