How To Cut Dovetail Joints

Dovetails are one of the most popular and often made joints in woodworking, and this sled is designed to make cutting them as simple as possible. Unlike dovetail pins, finger joint pins are straight, so it’s an easier joint to make than a dovetail, although it’s not as strong. That is no problem to cut the tails, but that will be the maximum height for the tails. You can’t use the sliding bevel or an ordinary dovetail template to lay out the angles of the pins on the end grain — the shoulder gets in the way. The Festool dust collection is indeed the best in the business, but on a dovetail jig, it is off little use.

Step 9: The finishing method I prefer is to use water based satin polyurethane to apply 2-3 coats of finish with hand 220 grit sanding in between coats. Make sure you get yourself a good marking gauge and a fine saw, and you should be able to do it after a couple of hundred tries. I like how the ease and control of the fine micro-adjust were demonstrated cuZ i am gonna use the same router to make my own dovetails. The rabbited portion of the drawer bottom should be towards the bottom of the drawer to make it invisible in the final drawer.

That way when you’re done and have the dovetail joint put together, you will plane or sand the excess wood off and you can have a flush, perfect joint. This set contains one each of the following mini tools: Woodworking Plane, Combination Marking Gauge, Sliding Bevel, Try Square and Dove Tail Square. Miter joint clamp (for picture frames); optional, but very useful when transferring tail markings to the drawer front. No other dovetail jig offers the incredible range of joinery than that of the D4R Pro.


It is common to slightly taper the socket, making it slightly tighter towards the rear of the joint, so that the two components can be slid together easily but the joint becomes tighter as the finished position is reached. The secret mitred dovetail joint (also called a mitered blind dovetail) is used in the highest class of cabinet and box work. Working carefully, you can make the joint close to a perfect miter leaving no trace of the workmanship inside.

For that traditional dovetail drawer front with no joint showing on the face, you can cut a through dovetailed drawer box and then apply the drawer front as a false front or a two-piece drawer front. The first thought, which you may already have addressed is to make sure your chisels are sharp. Set the cutting width of the dado-set to equal the thickness of the finger pins to be cut. I was actually surprised by how well that worked for me. The picture below shows the joint after I’d finished with the router. The first ‘A’ cut will be the first that has full contact with the wood, and allows for the tail.

Yes, the joints sort of fit together, but wow, aside from the sloppiness of the whole thing, look how thin those half-pins are on the top and bottom! In the end, it really doesn’t matter what you cut first because once the joint is assembled you can’t tell the difference. The disadvantages of dovetail joints are that they can be fairly difficult to mark out and cut, and if they are made badly these joints lose the advantages listed above.

True it with a low-angle shoulder plane, taking care not to go over the miter lines cut on the edges. I make some of the nicest looking numbers when I mistakenly write down a number other than the one I was supposed to write down. To make sure I don’t have a hump in the middle of the shoulder I check it with the back of a wide chisel. I don’t normally bring the joint together completely when dry because every time you put them together and take them apart, the joint becomes increasingly loose. The stock should be flat, of even thickness, and cut square on the ends – the same as you’d prepare stock for any furniture work.

The pins are then cut in the usual way, care being taken that the saw kerf be on the outside of the marks, otherwise the pins will finish too slack to engage with the tails. As others have mentioned the directions are vague, but I have used this type dovetail fixture for years..For the price and quality when this one wears out I will replace it with another from Harbor Freight. The joint should be tight enough that it must be tapped together with a mallet.