Gazette Archive 7/17/98
Stots Dovetail Template MasterTM by Doug Smith
I've got a lot to say about this dovetail template but let me mention Richard Stottmann first. He's the innovator behind Stots Corporation. This fellow is a woodworker just like you and me. He has faced problems which have arisen in his work, thoughtfully figured them out and now he shares them with us. I read the inside cover of the manual, and got a glimpse of his personality in his P.S. concerning lawyers. Then there was his Honor Statement on the inside back cover... this guy just wants everyone to be able to cut dovetails, cheaply, and correctly! I'm thinking that his business is just an offshoot from that, at least those are my thoughts on it. I like him!
The Instruction Book
In both these Methods, you have options of 1" spacing or 2" spacing. I chose Method 2 with 1" spacing as this seemed the best setup for me. My dovetails were to be in 10 drawers for two chests which I'm building. (I also figured that I could go to 2" spacing if I chose to.) Following his making of the working jigs comes the test cut, and how-to section. These pages are followed up with adjustments - how to fine tune for that perfect joint.
Once again, he spells it out so all can understand and then accomplish this with no fuss. Next we're taken through the joints the Dovetail Template Master can do: half blind, (more on this joint later) through dovetails, angled dovetails, box joint and hinge joint. By the time the working jig is done, you already have a handle on what you're doing; these sections just reinforce your knowledge. You're all set, great instructions!
Making the Working Jig
I picked MDF for my working jig, and decided on 1" spacing. I also went for Method 2, which gives you a jig twice as long, but not in sections. (if you make a mistake, you replace the whole thing, careful Doug!) Since the 2" spacing is arrived at by deleting every other 'bar' in the jig, I thought that I could retrofit that way but couldn't add them back without making another jig.
In the instructions, he says to screw the template down. I'm saying, 'Make sure its SECURE!'. There is a lot of force when you're routing this out. (This might be where MDF, notorious for its lack of screw holding ability is not the best choice. Stottman lists Plywood or solid wood - I didn't want to risk any voids.) You also make a backer board that's 2-1/4" wide. To get this laminated thickness ply will not work, its undersized, make sure of your thickness here if gluing up. I once again chose MDF, 3/4" thick to glue up - a straight forward operation. Attach your backer to the working jig at right angles and you're ready for a test cut.
Test Cuts, and Alignment
This might be the only awkward part. You scribe the tail locations onto the end grain of the pin board, then align with the fingers of the working jig. This, however, harkens to the methods used in hand cutting dovetail joints, so its not all bad. When doing multiplies, time can be saved by clamping stops to the backer board.
Making the Cuts
Half Blind Dovetails
This seemed to me a too
round about way to make this very necessary drawer joint. Taking
a bit of my time and using the idea behind the Stots jig, I fabricated
my own template to cut this joint. This home fabricated jig is
based on 2" spacing and cuts with only 1 bit - the dovetail
bit. In it, like other half-blind dovetailers, the pin and tail
board are cut at the same time. The tail board is clamped vertical
and the pin board is clamped on the other side of the jig, in
a horizontal position. The bearing bit follows the template in
a J shape, routing the opening for the pin and then the
recess for the 2" tail.
Reasons To Buy
Editor's note: Doug Smith is a professional woodworker and webmaster. His homepage is packed full of interesting woodworking information.
The Dovetail Template Master is available for $39.95 from Stots Corporation.