School Header - How to Layout Dovetails

How to Layout Dovetails

In this lesson, I will show you how to mark out one half of a dovetail joint and why accuracy is so important at this stage.

Lesson Objectives

Laying out a dovetail is a relatively simple task but it’s quite easy to get bogged down with what dovetail ratios to use, where to set the marking gauge and what spacing to use. I put all of those ‘rules’ to sleep in this video. By the end of this lesson, you will have all four corners marked out and ready to cut in the next episode.

I like using the Veritas Marking Gauge for the majority of my marking out operations as I find it leaves a much cleaner and consistent line compared to a traditional wooden marking gauge. It’s also not too expensive depending on which version of gauge you purchase.

I have the Micro Adjust version although I rarely use the feature. Realistically I could happily use the Standard Marking Gauge for the majority of my work.

The Micro-Adjust Veritas Marking Gauge

I also own a Titemark marking gauge which is similar to the Veritas model. Although this often more expensive and in my opinion doesn’t have enough additional features to justify the price jump for a first time buyer.

Previous Lesson

Dimensioning Material

Next Lesson

How to Cut the Dovetails

Supporting Material

Click the images below to see supporting material helping you with this part of the project.

Dovetail ratios are one of the most over-complicated subjects when it comes to dovetails. Fundamentally, it comes down to preference. But there are a few things you should be aware of first. Watch this video to find out why.

Using a marking gauge on these small components can be tricky. This video gives some great tips to help you on the way!

There are many types of marking gauge available today, and it’s confusing to work out which one to buy. This video talks you through the different options available, and which will work best for you.

Have you got the plans yet?

Package includes working drawings, a cutting list, and a 3d SketchUp model!

The Student Series

Want to see another beginner make this project before you? It’s a great way to scope out any mistakes before you make one yourself!

How deep should the marking gauge lines be? – 3:00

Should you mark the tails on both sides of the component? – 4:03

Can you use a mechanical pencil? – 6:15

Should you move the ruler or keep it planted when measuring? – 8:55

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