Learning How To Make Dovetail Joints with Adam Savage

For his latest obsession with the Napoleonic era, Adam is teaching himself how to make dovetail joints to build a personal sea chest. Adam shares with Will what he’s learned so far and demonstrates his new carpentry skills.

Comments (20)

20 thoughts on “Learning How To Make Dovetail Joints with Adam Savage

  1. I like stuff like this. Yeah 3D printers are cool and all, but in Adam’s talks about getting kids and people to create things I’m not sure clicking ‘go’ in a piece of software is what he meant. More stuff like ‘here’s how to make something’ is really cool.

    Watching this reminded me of when I met a distant relative of mine on my mothers side that lived on the east coast. He built these incredibly intricate commodes (fancy dressers) that he started building after he retired. He made a number of them and I’m not sure he actually completed all of them before he died. I only got to meet the guy once since I’ve only been to Boston once, but I got to see them and tour his shop n stuff. I have a few pieces of some of the inlay that he made somewhere.


    Those photos don’t do the work gone into them justice at all.

  2. Like you said, you’ll get a lot of mail and contact from this video. Kudos for giving it a try by hand, it took me months to learn to do this properly by hand and seconds when using a router. Pointers I would mention are that to avoid dropping below your scored lines, put some straight-edged scrap wood in with the wood to be cut at the appropriate level and it stops you going too low. Also, yes it does matter that your work bench, which is hardwood, is taking a beating. Get a piece of pine underneath when you’re paring, it will save those beautiful tools you mentioned from dulling as quickly!

  3. I like this video, sometimes people try new stuff and it’s less than perfect so they think “That’s just not my thing” but don’t realize the people who are good at it made hundreds before it became “their thing”

  4. I loved dovetails so much that I once ordered a custom arcade stick case with dovetails, as seen here:

    Pic 1

    Pic 2

    I no longer have it, but it was fucking beautiful. Had to dig up my old, old Photobucket account to find pics.

  5. When hand cutting dovetails make your saw cuts on the waste side of the line, not on the line. You will get a tighter fit. Also, mount that vise, can’t imagine it is not moving during the saw cut – maybe not on your small learning pieces but will on the larger chest pieces. You might want to consider a moxon vice – http://benchcrafted.com/MoxonVise.html

  6. This might sound like an odd nit-pick, but it always soudns weird when the video starts with “I’m Will from Tested… and I’m Adam Savage.”

    It’s Adam and Jamie’s site now. At least, it’s their faces and names on the upper-left corner. Shouldn’t Adam say “I’m Adam from Tested,” or “I’m Adam Savage with Tested,”? This site will presumably be around longer than Mythbusters will. He might as well start identifying himself with it.

  7. The thing I admire most about Adam are his hands. In every video they always seem to be mucked up with something or other and you can tell he’s in there everyday making something and getting dirty. Great video guys. sometimes the process is more interesting than the result.

    Thank you for linking to that video, I subscribed to his channel. This fall I finished building my garage and wrapping it in cedar shakes. A lot of work but very satisfying. I would like to learn more about wood working and move away from my current career as a web developer. I think there’s more of us out there than you think.

  8. For instructional material… the New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abrahm or go with Roy Underhill.

    Yes, they make routers and jigs for this, but given the way Adam’s mind tends to work, it’ll make more sense to do it like this first and then the faster way.

  9. Great to see some learning going on. I was wondering if Adam is making a model of the Acheron similar to the one in Master and Commander or if that is just a random model boat hull.

  10. I remember seeing my grandfather build wooden toys a long time ago. Back then i didn’t understand why he had a bassin of water in his wood store, but somehow i think you should try to humidify to the wood in the process. It should expand when drying and fit perfectly.

  11. I came here to post a comment about The Woodwright’s Shop in hopes that Adam would see it. Anyone with a handtool fetish needs to know about Roy Underhill and his work (and Roy gave a great TedX talk at Raleigh, NC a couple of years ago).

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