Handy Tools – Mirror for Cutting Dovetails

As I attempted to get better at dovetails, one of the things that frustrated me was that I was continually cutting the back side either too low or too high. When I would stop cutting to look around the back, I would find that I had changed my position, and it would take me a stroke or two to get everything lined up again and that caused troubles.

So I got a great little tool for $6 at the drug store. A folding stand mirror I can set up behind the dovetail I'm cutting so I can see the back side of the cut without changing position. It made a huge difference in getting my initial cuts to the line without crossing over. Sometimes the simplest things can make a big difference.

Saw cutting dovetails in the foreground, with a mirror in the background showing the back side of the dovetails

Now, almost five years later, I mostly don't use the mirror any more, but I still keep it handy, and some days when I'm having troubles, I'll set it up and get myself settled down again.

I think it was Chris Schwarz who said :

...everyone on the planet is born with a certain number of sets of bad dovetails in their hands. And the only way to get rid of those bad dovetails is to make them. Eventually, you run out of bad dovetails, and you're set for life.

Some days, I guess I need to get some bad dovetails out of my system, but setting up the mirror helps get me back on track.


#woodworking #tools

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