what-is-a-dovetail-saw

What is a dovetail saw?

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Dovetail saw Dovetail saws are very similar to tenon saws, except that they tend to have a thinner blade with more teeth per inch.

Application

very small, precise cuts Dovetail saws are used for applications that require small, very precise cuts or when an extremely neat finish is required.

They are typically used for joint-making, particularly dovetail joints, where two pieces of wood must fit together precisely.

Materials

hard and softwood A dovetail saw is designed for use in hard and softwoods.

Characteristics

A variety of blade lengths are available, ranging from 200 to 250mm.

Blade

The blade of a dovetail saw is relatively short in length and thin to allow for more delicate and precise cutting.

push stroke

Cutting stroke

Traditionally, dovetail saws would only cut on the push stroke. However, nowadays there are models available which can cut on both the push and pull stroke.

For more information, see our section: Push stroke saws vs. pull stroke saws

Dovetail saws 14 - 20 teeth per inch

Teeth Per Inch (TPI)

A dovetail saw will usually have between 14 and 20 teeth per inch.

Dovetail Finish

Compared to other types of saws, dovetail saws have a higher TPI which means they can create a neater finish.

However, because of this they cut through materials slower than saws with fewer teeth, thus giving you more control over each stroke.

Dovetail saw straight handle.

Handle

A dovetail saw sometimes has a straight handle. This type of handle is usually found on saws used for delicate or precise work, such as tenon or coping saws.

The cylindrical handle can be turned freely in the user’s hand, meaning you have greater control over the shape of the cuts you make.

Why is it called a dovetail saw?

dovetail joint A dovetail saw gets its name because it’s most commonly used for making dovetail joints.
tenon saw

Why not just use a tenon saw?

You can use a tenon saw to make a dovetail joint and vice versa, but both saws have specific features designed to make their particular task much easier.

dovetail joint
The dovetail saw is basically the tenon saw’s little brother. Although they look similar, dovetail saws tend to have thinner blades with more teeth per inch, so they do not remove as much material at one time compared to a tenon saw.

This means that you can make the smaller more delicate cuts required for a dovetail joint, and because it takes longer to make the cut, you have more control over each stroke.