Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Hand Cut Dovetails

Learn precision sawing and paring joints to fit as you learn this classic joinery technique. Weekend class in hand tool woodworking designed by Jim Tolpin.


Hand Cut Dovetails

Weekend Hand Tool Woodworking Series



Hand-cut dovetails are considered the mark of a craftsman. In this two day class we'll introduce you to the techniques and sequences of steps to cut dovetails by hand using a hand saw and chisels.

Why is this a beginner class? Dovetails teach you the basics of layout and markup, using a handsaw and using a chisel to pare and chop. Dovetails are easier to cut and fit than mortise and tenon joinery. There are more tricks and they're more forgiving. Plus, if you go home and practise them you can improve rapidly.

Class Description

In this class you'll learn:

  • What is a dovetail

  • How to layout dovetails

  • How to saw to a line

  • How to sharpen and maintain a chisel

  • How to pare and chop to a line with a chisel

  • Make through and half blind dovetails

  • The art of fitting dovetails


For this class you don't need to bring  tools - we have tools at each workbench that you can use. 

However, learning to sharpen is best done working on your own chisel - please bring a 1/2" chisel. The Irwin Tools Marples Woodworking chisel (or similar) is very reasonable - about $13 from Woodcraft and also available at Edensaw in Port Townsend.

If you do want to practice with your own saw we recommend the Lee Valley / Veritas Standard Dovetail Saw - 14 tpi  which, for around $65, is great value. 

More about this class

More Classes in the Weekend Hand tool Series

  1. Hand Saw Essentials

  2. Hand Plane Essentials

  3. Hand Cut Dovetails

  4. Hand Cut Mortise and Tenon

  5. Traditional Finishing


This class focuses on precision sawing - you will benefit from having taken our Handsaw Essentials class.

Class Information and Registration

Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday in Building #315 at Fort Worden.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the school.
Please also read our Registration Policy.
Class size: 10
Cost: $295

Materials Charge: $30

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.