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Dovetail Pen

author-gravatar DAS225 May 26, 2018

I wanted to make a gift for a mentor that gave some very helpful pointers on cutting dovetails by hand. I figured a pen made from a dovetail joint would be appropriate.

I wanted to maximize contrast, so I used walnut and curly maple to make the joint.

Making sure everything is smooth and square...

Arranged all my tools and got to work.

Tails first.

I succeeded in missing about half my lines... fortunately these are the least critical fit-wise.

Transfer by knife.

Most of the waste is removed with a fret saw, leaving >1/8" for chiseling.

This joint was obscenely tight going together. I'm surprised neither board cracked.

No gaps... but I did a poor job keeping with my depth scribes.

I cut the joint apart from the boards on the bandsaw and sanded off the remaining waste on the belt sander.

At this point I realized I could've just glued together a bunch of trapezoids, but that wouldn't qualify for a dovetailing contest.

I broke the blank a couple times in handling. I think the vast majority of the glue applied squeezed out when gluing, so these were actually pretty weak joints once separated.

Scuff and stuff

I prefer a barrel trimmer over a disc sander. Partly because I don't own a disc sander, but also due to the reliance of a disc sander on the blank being square and the tube being perfectly parallel to the faces of the blank.

Venturing into r/turning

The alternating wood types and end grain-face grain cutting encouraged light cuts.

I applied 8 coats of thin CA and sanded with micromesh, followed by NOVUS heavy and fine scratch remover.

In hindsight, I should've stepped up to a few layers of medium CA. Walnut can have some pretty open pores, and the thin CA fell right into that, leaving small holes that collect and easily display dust. This hasn't been an issue with walnut pens where the grain is running along the length of the blank, but it was obvious here.

Kit: Atrax chrome rollerball, from Exoticblanks.


Beautiful pen! Very creative.

Thanks Sean!

@Sean  said:

Beautiful pen! Very creative.

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