Houndstooth Dovetails on the End Caps – Low Cost Roubo 6

Half-blind houndstooth dovetail cutting tutorial for a Roubo bench.

With the top almost complete, and attached to the base, I turned my attention to the dovetails. The dovetails are a pretty iconic part of the Roubo bench, and since I probably won’t be building another bench in a while, I decided to go a little flashy with houndstooth dovetails.

With my end-caps dimensioned, marked out and mortised, it was time to mark out the dovetails. You might remember that one of the endcaps was left a little longer than the other, to accept the ‘apron’ at the front of the bench. Marking out the houndstooth dovetails seems daunting at first but with a little care it’s not too difficult.

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Tails marked and cut first

I’m a tails first kind of guy, and while it’s usually just a matter of individual preference, I find for houndstooth dovetails marking out the tails first makes it a lot easier, especially since these are half-blind. I mark the tails normally, with two large tails first. I then measured 2/3rd into the height of the tails (from the end. Then, from the middle of each tail, I marked out the ‘recess’ within the tail at the same angle as the tails. This will split each tail into two tails, with space for 3 pins – one large pin between the two larger tails and a smaller pin within each tail, for that classic houndstooth look.

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Pins marked, sawn, and ready to be bored.

With the tails marked out, I turned to my trusty Veritas rip saw to cut just inside the lines. It’s very important to stay within the lines and to cut as square as possible. I followed up with a coping saw and chisels to clean out the waste. With the tails cut, I lined them up on the end-cap to mark out the pins. With the pins marked, I used a saw to cut close to lines as much as possible. Since these are half blind, I had to come in at an angle and be careful not to cut past the length of the tails. I used a brace and bit (taped for depth) to hog out most of the waste and cleaned them up with chisels, slowly paring down to the lines.

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With the bulk of the waste removed, it was time to carefully pare down to the lines.

With that done, it was time to attach the end cap to top, as outline in the last post, and hammer and glue in the front apron board, and voila! The dovetails were complete, and the bench looked a hell of a lot better! It’s a bit more work than just adding the end cap without any dovetails, or even just adding regular single pin and tail dovetails, but every time I look at the bench it makes me smile, and I’d say that makes it worth the effort.


Dovetails assembled!

Next post will be on adding the leg vise, and drilling the bench dog holes! As always, feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions.


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