If you’d like to know more about anything, we’ve also included links to additional tips, tricks, and how-to articles and videos throughout this article. This is a good choice for joining partitions to a case piece, as it prevents the sides from pulling away from the partition. Here in the WOOD® magazine shop, we like to cut the sockets first, about 1⁄32 Professional woodworker Chris Hedges replies:Dovetail angles are expressed in two ways: as ratios and degrees. This is just one method that does not require much thought or a pile of jigs. And the shape of the dovetail makes it impossible to take apart in one direction and difficult in the other. The dovetail key is used primarily to reinforce and strengthen a joint. But if you happen to study antique furniture, you’re likely to see dovetail angles that range from 7° to 140 (1:4 ratio). For centuries, the hand-cut dovetail joint has stood as a testament to the quality of the case, box, or drawer that beheld it. Utilitarian projects can have thicker, fewer pins. The pin is the part that fits into the socket, which is formed by two tails. Slice individual keys from the blank (about 1⁄32 For example, use a long dovetail slot (socket) inside a bookcase or entertainment center, then machine a long tail on each end of a shelf, as shown below. The waste wood should be shaded with a pencil. These days, thanks to routers and dovetail bits, even a beginning woodworker can incorporate this joint to enhance the simplest projects. Dovetail joints provide considerable mechanical strength because when the joint is assembled, it can’t be twisted or racked. The bowtie shape is cut from solid wood, with the grain running lengthwise, and set into the surface of a board at 90° to the grain. Less-expensive jigs make only half-blind joints, where the dovetails are visible only from one side of the joint. Decide on the angle, number of tails, size and measurement of spacing of the dovetails. The tails bear the brunt of the joint's stress, so when planning your project, point the tails in the direction of the stress. Full-blind or secret dovetails are rarely used because when assembled, the dovetails — and all the work — are completely hidden. Enter now for your chance to win more than $2,000 worth of woodworking equipment from Woodpeckers. Christian Becksvoort has cut thousands of dovetail joints, learn how he streamlines the process in his article, My Favorite Dovetail Tricks. FPL testing on dovetail joints made at different angles between 7.5° and 17.5° showed no difference in joint strength. If you want to skip the hand work, dovetails can also be cut using machines such as the tablesaw, bandsaw, or router. This means you can use it to eliminate fasteners, such as screws or nails. Sliding dovetails employ the same concept as the traditional joint, but more resemble the tongue-and-groove joint. These days, we often hear that 90 is recommended for softwoods, while 70 should be used for hardwoods. You must be logged in to write a comment. Angle joints. That's why you'll find a covey of commercial jigs on the market today, each designed to simplify cutting the pins and sockets with bearing-guided bits. You'll see the three basic parts of every dovetail joint in the Parts of a Dovetail Joint drawing below. Although historically, dovetails were strictly employed for practical reasons, today, they appear on furniture primarily for decorative and aesthetic reasons and have come to symbolize fine craftsmanship. You'll still want to glue the joint, but again, you won't need clamps for this assembly. All Rights Reserved. A tail-shaped tongue slides into a pin-shaped groove, and won’t pull apart when glue is applied. You should still glue the joint, but you won't need clamps. When installing crown molding, I find it difficult to measure accurately between the corners of a... read more. What are the most common angles, and what are the factors that determine what angle to choose? I have trouble with the hard soft wood angle stuff because normally the sides of a drawer are made from softer less expensive wood. ie: 3.75 = 3 3 4 or 3 3/4 Select appropriate angle and overlap to obtain desired log gap. I made my own dovetail marking gauge with an 8 degree slope. The best-looking dovetails have always been cut by hand. Woodworkers who came before us chose their dovetail angles for the sake of appearance, I suspect. Generally, the widest portion of the pin should be equal to 1/2 the thickness of the material. This is perfect for giving a good deep chop with every cut.
A dovetail template is used to mark out the dovetail. Scrollsaw, Carving, and Decorative Projects, How To Sharpen Your Drill Bits With The Drill Doctor, What To Look For In A Battery Powered Circular Saw, Homemade Jigs Conquer Crown Molding Measuring. The angle of the dovetail is generally between 15° and 20°. There are basically three types: through, or full, dovetails are used to join carcases, blanket chests, and small boxes. Deciding the angle, number, size, and spacing of the dovetails is critical to success. Tim Coleman adapted a technique used with wooden dowels for a cleaner way to join legs to benchtops or tabletops without the need for aprons. Make Fine Woodworking a part of your holiday. Here is how I went about setting out and cutting my dovetails using hand tools and with some practice you can too. Alternative dovetails: Sliding dovetails and dovetail keys are close cousins of the traditional joint.
This lets us gradually remove more stock from the pins until we get a good fit.
Expert Answers: Proper Angles for Dovetails. My suggestion: Invest in a good-quality bevel gauge that allows you to choose your own dovetail angles, and train your eye to be your guide in deciding what angles to cut. Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox. Considered one of the strongest and certainly the most beautiful of joints, the dovetail exacts a stiff price in terms of skill for the strength and good looks it provides. With pricier models, you can cut through-dovetails, where both sides show (see Common Corner Joints drawing, below). My suggestion: Invest in a good-quality bevel gauge that allows you to choose your own dovetail angles, and train your eye to be your guide in deciding what angles to cut. For example, opening and closing a drawer creates front-to-rear stress on the drawer. The recess for the key can be cut entirely by hand, or the bulk of the waste can be removed with a router, followed by a chisel to clean up the corners.
" shanks. The through dovetail joint is strong and attractive. Generally speaking, the greater the cutting angle, the stronger the joint. UNLIMITED membership - Get access to it all. This will help you avoid cutting away the wrong part of the joint. 4. This leaves the dovetail joint with a combination of hard and soft woods. Or is it? The dovetail joint is made up of two parts. In this video, he shows the progression of sleds he built, and unveils the final version. Also, there are thousands of ways to do it. Therefore, point the tails front and rear, which means cutting the sockets in the drawer sides. Half-blind dovetails are the most common joints for attaching drawer fronts to drawer sides. If you look at the face of the workpiece and see birdtail-shaped protrusions, those are tails; if you see rectangles, you're looking at pins. This joint stays together — even without glue! Once the joint is complete, we sand the tails flush with the pins. Today, there are jigs that enable a woodworker to cut dovetails mechanically, but the end result appears static and too uniform. UNLIMITED Membership is like taking a master class in woodworking for less than $10 a month. Dovetails can be complex, but they do not need to be. Q. I’ve started to work on laying out and cutting dovetail joints by hand, and I’m confused about the proper angle to use for dovetail joinery. The angle of the dovetail is generally between 15° and 20°. A sliding bevel can be used also by setting it to the required dovetail angle. " deeper than the thickness of the pins, using a dovetail bit in our router table. Dovetails are probably the strongest method for joining two pieces of wood, surface to surface, with the grain running in the same direction. Continue reading Since the cleanest, most efficient way to cut any joint is to minimise the number of cuts you make, that shallow angle really counts. ... Generally, the widest portion of the pin should be equal to 1/2 the thickness of the material. With the key in place, the “butterfly” shape prevents the board(s) from separating. What makes dovetail joint strong and reliable is the shape, called the “tails and pins” that are joined together. Cutting good dovetails begins with a good layout. So precut the slot with your tablesaw, or a router and a straight bit, as shown below, to remove as much material as you can before routing the dovetail.
We have created these special content collections organized to give you a deep dive into a range of topics that matter. Then, set up the socket cuts in scrap to ensure a good fit. " longer than the socket), assemble the joint, tap the keys into place, then sand them flush with the workpiece. This group of joints is a broad one and covers a large variety of joints, such as mitre joint, halving joint, mortice and tenon, dovetailing, housing, bridle, etc. Even without the use of expensive jigs, you can use dovetail bits to make other strong and attractive joints. Our biweekly podcast allows editors, authors, and special guests to answer your woodworking questions and connect with the online woodworking community. A. Just be sure your panels are in place prior to gluing the frame. Home
It's not that big of a piece, but it packs in a…, Chris Gochnour's sideboard combines usefulness, strength, and beauty in a contemporary case piece. The dovetail key is a device that spans a natural wood defect or a man-made seam to mechanically lock two pieces together. And, if you don't glue the shelf in place, you can remove or replace it at any time. Become an UNLIMITED member and get it all: searchable online archive of every issue, how-to videos, Complete Illustrated Guide to Woodworking digital series, print magazine, e-newsletter, and more. Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers. Log In. I teach quite a bit and this wall cabinet is probably one of my favorite things to teach. It's the traditional joint of choice for joining boards at right angles. Because of its opposing-wedge action, a properly fitted dovetail joint self-tightens. Or, use a sliding dovetail joint instead of a stub tenon for making rail and stile panels, as shown below. These days, thanks to routers and dovetail bits, even a beginning woodworker can incorporate this joint to enhance the simplest projects. It would be a waste to cut fine, delicate dovetails on a tool box that will be subjected to rough and careless handling. Subscribe today, now up to 64% off newsstand. Anatomy of the joint: Pins and tails make a locking joint in a number of variations. Before cutting the key sockets, mill a long key blank using the same dovetail bit.
© 2020 The Taunton Press, Inc. All rights reserved. It’s also used to stabilize a natural flaw or defect in a piece of timber. However, always keep in mind the intended purpose of the project. Use a router and a dovetail jig to dovetails with speed and ease. Half-blind dovetails are commonly used to join drawer sides to drawer fronts and occasionally are employed on the construction of carcases. Expert Answers: Proper Angles for Dovetails, UPGRADE YOUR BANDSAW w/TIMBER WOLF BLADES & SAVE 20%. But beware: The acute angles on the tails make them more fragile as the cutting angle increases, and they can break more easily along the grain. These are regarded as the strongest and most beautiful.
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