“Perfect fitting hand cut dovetails in a matter of minutes without the learning curve.”

Are you intimidated by hand cut dovetail joinery? Have you avoided incorporating dovetail joinery into your woodworking because you feel that the learning curve for hand cut dovetails in far too steep and you don’t want to commit to complicated and expensive router jigs?

Read on to find out how the Veritas Dovetail Guide and Saw can help.



I received an email today from Rob Lee, President of Lee Valley Tools and he informs me that there is another advantage to using the Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide System.

“One of the best features of this type of product, is that it enables people with motor skill problems (tremors, hand weakness, etc.) to cut joints…. That’s why we eventually made a 90 degree version. It’s an aspect of tool design that’s easily overlooked, when the designer doesn’t personally have those sorts of challenges… “ 

Rob Lee


 Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide System

Veritas® 1:6 Guide with Saw 

Let me assure you that your fears are no longer warranted. Lee Valley Tools has the perfect solution to your hand cut dovetail dilemma and it’s accurate, easy to use and relativity inexpensive. Lee Valley’s Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide System.

The Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide System comes in three ratios1:6 (9 degrees) for softwood, 1:8 (7 degrees) for hardwood and the new 14° guide is designed to approximate a 1:4 ratio, typically found on popular 18th century American period furniture. All of these guides are designed to be used with material that is ¼” to 1” thick. The Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide System can be purchased as a complete system (saw and guide of your choice) or can be purchased individually.

For this review I’ll be using the 1:6 guide (for softwoods) and the Veritas dovetail saw with it’s dozuki tooth design that rips and cross cuts with relative ease and comes with the system.

                                    Click all thumbnails to enlarge.



The guide itself is made from anodized aluminum and has a ¾” rare earth magnet embedded into each side of the guide to hold the saw at the perfect angle while cutting the dovetails. To assist the saw in a smooth and perfectly aligned cut, the two sides of the jig that are used as a cutting guide are covered with a low friction UHMW plastic.




The guide clamp that holds the jig to the material being cut adjusts effortlessly and secures the jig firmly to the stock being cut., when tightened in position, this jig does not move. The jig has two positions, one for cutting the tails and one for cutting the pins and is easily converted to either position by simply sliding off the guide clamp and re-positioning the guide clamp on the jig body to cut the tails or pins.

The instructionsthat come with the saw guide are detailed, full of illustrations and are easy to follow. The instructions also come with a trouble shooting section and valuable information on dovetail joinery.  It goes without saying that you should read over the instructions carefully and become familiar with the terminology of dovetailing and how the guide works.  Despite the fact that this guide will also cut “half blind” dovetails, I’ve chosen to focus on “through” dovetails for this review. Half blind dovetails take a little more work to get good at but “through” dovetails are the perfect place to start for anyone trying dovetailing for the first time.

The saw guide has two configurations, one for cutting the tails and one for cutting the pins. To change from cutting tails to cutting pins you simply remove the guide clamp and re-orientate the guide for cutting pins and re-install the guide clamp. Sound confusing, it’s not because the saw guide has been manufactured with a “tapered” wing and a “square wing” to remove all confusion.



Once I laid out the pins and tails on the stock I was using, the saw guide can be configured for the given operation and I was ready to go. I elected to cut the tails first as it makes no difference with this saw guide whether the tails or pins are cut first. The following picture shows the tail cutting procedure in progress.




Cutting the pins has one added operation and it’s only required when cutting the two “half pins” at either end of the stock. An adjacent piece of wood of the same thickness is placed under the guide’s clamp to keep the guide secure while sawing. (See below) This operation is explained in “Figure 15” of the saw guide’s instructions.


Once the pins and tails are cut to their layout lines it’s a simple matter of removing the waste material with a chisel and even that operation is covered in detail, in the instructions.

Lee_Valley_Dovetail_k_    Lee_Valley_Dovetail_f_



The Bottom Line:

Whether this is your first time at trying hand cut dovetail joinery or you only plan on cutting a few dovetails every once in awhile this is the dovetail jig for you. Even if you’re unsure of how to hold a dovetail saw or confused about how and where to start, the Lee Valley Veritas Dovetail Saw Guide and it’s easy to follow detailed instructions will easily guide you to creating perfectly fitting dovetails in no time at all. It did for me.


  • Veritas 1:6 Guide with Saw $59.00
  • Veritas 1:6 Dovetail Saw Guide $42.50
  • Veritas Dovetail Saw $24.50

 A Personal Note:

This dovetail guide was described to me by a dovetail purist as “dovetailing with training wheels”. To that I said, “call it what you will, the results speak for themselves…perfect fitting hand cut dovetails in a matter of minutes without the learning curve”.  

The pictures below speak for themselves.







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