I had a student in mid November 2012 that traveled from North Carolina to take a 5 day private class with me. One of the things she was interested in learning was my method of cutting dovetails using the bandsaw and getting that “hand cut” look.
She had been taught by a Master Craftsman from the UK to use a dovetail saw. She loves hand tools and is very good with them, especially hand planes. The challenge for her was that due to some recent medical issues, she was experiencing difficulties holding the dovetail saw straight all the way through the cut.
I her told that I have had carpel tunnel surgery and two other hand surgeries related to tendon pain and I prefer to use the bandsaw to cut dovetails.
I use a method of cutting the pins first, if you are cutting by hand with a dovetail saw, then it makes sense to cut the tails first.
She was quite pleasently surprised when I demonstrated that by tilting the table of the bandsaw 8 degrees in one direction, and set the fence to the appropriate spacing, that we could cut the pins with very straight lines. Once those cuts were made, we tilted the bandsaw table to 8 degrees in the opposite direction and made the other set of cuts on the pins, again moving the fence to each layout line.
After that we used the fretsaw to cut out the bulk of the waste, clamped a guide block across the scribe line, chiseled half way down, flipped the stock and then did the same procedure on the opposite side.
I like to clamp the guide block onto the tails board to ensure accuracy in relationship to the scribe line. Next I clamp the pins board to the guide block lined up with the edges of the tails board and scribe the outline of the pins onto the tails board.
This gives us the cut line. After the tails are cut and pared with some dovetail chisels,then we do a test fit, pare a little more until we are ready for the glue up.
Here is a photo of her completed dovetail sample cut in cherry wood.