Dividing Up Some Tail

I am changing how I mark out dovetails and finally got a chance to try out this new method.  Good-bye rulers, hello dividers.

Previously,  I was using a method that Gary Rogowski outlined in a video for FWW (once again, the video is behind the pay wall).  Rogowski did not invent  said technique but his video was my point of reference.  So I am naming it after him.

Rogowski does tails first (the correct and proper way) and uses a ruler to mark the pin center lines and then mark the tails off from that line.  It works but this method just didn’t seem to completely click in my head.  With starting up my dovetail boot camp I decided to look for alternative processes.  My dividers kept catching my eye.

I bought a couple pairs of dividers after reading multiple sources touting the benefits of measuring as little as possible.  Dividers are an old tool and have intrigued me for some time.  This seemed like an opportune occasion to use them. I found a video and blog post which helped get me started.

First was Megan Fitzpatrick’s (of Popular Woodworking Magazine fame) “director’s cut” video.

 For whatever reason this seemed much easier than breaking out a ruler to layout tails every time.  And a great companion piece is Joe McGlynn’s blog post from 2012 that goes over the same method and adds a few extra details.

Seeing both of these was kind of like an epiphany for me.  I then went out to grab some scrap wood and see what I could do.

Gratuitous dividers shot.
Honestly, it was easy.  The only catch was figuring out the width of the tails.  You have to walk off each adjustment of the dividers but after doing it a few times this got easier.

Once the lines were drawn up the dovetail saw made an appearance. His close buddy the coping saw then got rid of the waste.  I think they turned out okay.


I still need to chisel out the last bit of stuff but my chisels are in desperate need of sharpening.   It was already late and cold out (28 degrees) so I marked out another board, sawed, coped, and called it.


I was pleased with the sawing, not perfect but better than the last round of dovetails I cut.  Which, by the way, I tried to take a picture of but these were really not meant to be seen.  They were terrible.  Really bad.

One of the benefits of using dividers is that once they are set, they are set.  Also the tails will be consistent project over which is one less issue to think about.  For now, I’m sold.

Now that the Christmas ornaments and tree are finally put up and (most importantly) out of the garage I can have a sharpening party tonight.  It will be a party of one but a party nevertheless.

I have multiple small projects I want to tackle and the dovetail joint is holding me up.  This will be my life for the foreseeable future.  Get excited.

Until next time, have a good one.

Eat a peach,


2 thoughts on “Dividing Up Some Tail

    1. It didn’t for me either at first. After messing around trying to use a ruler & then coming back to the video it all of a sudden made sense. I marked some more last night & it’s super fast & easy. I’m hooked.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s