How do I make a dovetail joint?

How do I make a dovetail joint? Firstly, to understand the process…there are two parts to a dovetail joint—a pin side and a tail side. The tails look like the tail of a dove (hence the name), and the pins are straight cuts. The two differently shaped sides fit together to form an interlocking trapezoid.  The joint will now resist being pulled apart in least one direction. Add some glue, clamp the joint together well, and it will now take the strain from both directions.

According to Wikipedia…”a through dovetail (also known as plain dovetail) joint, displays the end grain of both boards when the joint is assembled. Through dovetails are common in carcass and box construction. Traditionally, the dovetails would have often been covered by a veneer.

However, dovetails have become a signature of craftsmanship and are generally considered a feature, so they are rarely concealed in contemporary work. When used in drawer construction, a through (or blind, mitred, or lapped) dovetail joint is sometimes referred to as an “English dovetail”.  Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dovetail_joint

There are three commonly used methods for making dovetail joints:

  1. Cut the joints by hand, by marking out the dovetail side and the pin side; then, use a coping saw and chisel to cut out the negative spaces.  It is a difficult joint to make manually, requiring skilled workmanship.
  2. Cut the joints using a band saw or table saw. This method is labour-intensive and will not guarantee precise joints.
  3. Cut the joints using a box making jig with a template attached, on a table-mounted router. A box making jig is a device that holds in place each piece of the joint to introduce the timber to the rotating router bit.
    The ‘jig and template’ method is the easiest way to make dovetail joints. Consider a Gifkins Dovetail jig for precision and ease-of-operation.

It’s important to prepare your timber properly to get a good outcome. Each length of timber should be dressed-all-round to a good quality, the same width and even thickness along the board, and docked to exactly 90 degrees.

The jig and template method is the easiest way to make dovetail joints. Consider a Gifkins Dovetail jig for precision and ease-of-operation.

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