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Old 08-01-2011, 04:07 PM
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joraft joraft is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: San Fernando Valley (SoCal)
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Default Re: Peening dovetails in wood

Originally Posted by derekcohen View Post

We all know about filling gaps with thin wood wedges or slivers of wood. This can make gaps disappear.

There is another method - peening or sometimes called Bishoping- and this is particularly easy if the tails are slightly raised above the pins (in other words, the end grain is raised above the face grain).

Peening is the process of working the surface - in this case wood - and moving excess into gaps. To do this we need a hammer with a domed head - the traditional Japanese gennou is perfect (these have a domed end on on side and a flat end on the other side).

Step one is to squeeze a little glue into the gaps. I place a little on my fingertip and then push it in ..

To peen one does not hammer downwards. Instead you need to hammer at an oblique angle and similtaneously drag the hammer head across the surface, as if you were pulling the wood into the gap. Several controlled gentle taps are better a single heavy-handed slam.

Now clean up the dovetail with a plane and see the result ...
I was shown this technique at the William Ng School (not that any of MY dovetails needed it ) with one slight variation. We tapped a very narrow chisel all across the end grain in a series of criss cross patterns to open up the fibers, which allowed the wood to spread more. The results were surprisingly good.

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