How to Make Dovetail Joints

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How to Make Dovetail Joints

One of the most beautiful and striking woodworking joints is the dovetail joint. This type of joinery is very often associated with quality woodworking. It is both a structurally strong and aesthetically pleasing form of joinery.

Dovetail joinery is often used in case construction and for drawer construction, specifically drawer fronts as it is a very strong, interlocking joint.

Although dovetail jigs are available to create dovetail joinery, most if not all of these jigs involve powered tools. The hand cut dovetail offers unparalleled beauty in that any dovetail layout is possible.

Dovetail joints are composed of mating pins and tails which are angled. Creating dovetails by hand using a dovetail saw, chisels and marking tools, provides the flexibility to lay out tail and pin spacing more suitable to the drawer or case piece being constructed.

The dovetail joint is in the category of interlocking joints. Interlocking joints are also known as mechanical joints.The fact that the pins and tails mate at an angle provides the interlock.

Although the dovetail pins and tails are glued to each other in assembly; they also interlock to form a mechanical bond.

If the glue fails at some point in the future, this mechanical bond maintains the joint. When created with hand tools, dovetail joints can be uniquely spaced to provide a visible handcrafted aesthetic to the furniture.

Typically, the tails are sawn and chopped out of the edge of one board where these tails are then used to scribe matching pins along the edge of the mating board.

The tails and pins are then carefully fitted to each other. With experience, this process becomes easier and easier.

The contrast created with a lighter tail board and a darker pin board is striking. In drawer construction, the thicker piece is the drawer front whereas the thinner piece is typically the drawer side.

The spacing and width of the individual pins and tails can easily be customized to suit the furniture piece when crafting hand cut dovetails.

Typical tools used to create dovetails include layout and marking tools, chisels, a dovetail saw, a mallet, etc. Laying out and marking are of utmost importance in creating precision dovetail joints.

Accurate transfer of the tail layout to the pin board ultimately determines how tight and gap free a dovetail joint will be.

Dovetail joints are also exceptional in certain applications such as attaching drawer fronts. The interlocking nature of the joint keeps the drawer front from separating from the drawer sides.

The process of creating dovetail joinery by hand is a skill which improves as you create more dovetails. Many techniques have been developed to simplify the process of making hand cut dovetails.

Dovetail jigs are designed to enable you to accurately create hand cut dovetails. These jigs can easily be built and provides excellent accuracy, ease and precision in the creation of hand cut dovetails.

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