How to Create Various Dovetail Joints

From Through Dovetails to Half-Blind Dovetail Joints

Dovetail joints
Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul/EyeEm/Getty Images

Dovetail joints have been used for centuries for building boxes, chests, drawers and other woodworking projects where the joints are not only visible but used as a design statement. Well-built dovetail joints need no mechanical fasteners (although modern joints use adhesives to help keep the joint from separating over time). Learn the various types of dovetail joints, plus methods for making these popular joints.

  • 01 of 05

    Through Dovetails

    Through Dovetail Joints Chris Baylor

    The most basic dovetail joint, the through dovetail, is incredibly strong, and if properly constructed really a thing of beauty. Cleanly-cut through dovetails have even, consistent angles and no gaps between the pins and tails when they are assembled. Of course, therein lies the rub—it takes some patience and skill to craft through dovetail joints by hand. Fortunately, modern technology has made the task much easier than the traditional hand-cutting method. With a router, dovetailing bit and a dovetail jig, you can make nearly perfect dovetails in mere moments. Here are the keys to crafting a quality through dovetail on your woodworking projects.

  • 02 of 05

    Half-Blind Dovetail Joints

    Half-Blind Dovetail Joints (c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to, Inc.

    While a through dovetail is considered a classic joint, in certain instances you may want only a portion of the dovetail to be shown. For instance, a solid dresser drawer front shouldn't show the dovetail joint, but on the sides of the box, it is perfectly permissible. Half-blind dovetail joints are perfect for such an instance. In this article, learn the art of half-blind dovetail joint making using a router and a dovetailing jig.

  • 03 of 05

    Sliding Dovetail Joints

    Sliding Dovetail Joint Chris Baylor

    A sliding dovetail joint is one that is not commonly used, but in specific instances, a sliding dovetail joint can be just what your project needs. A sliding dovetail joint consists of a long groove with angled sides to serve as the tail for the sliding dovetail joint, while a corresponding long pin is cut into the end of the adjoining board. Some classic furniture pieces utilized sliding dovetail joinery for wooden drawer slides, which allows the drawer to slide in and out, but with no up or down motion. In this article, learn how to craft a sliding dovetail joint for use in your furniture or other woodworking projects.

  • 04 of 05

    Dovetail Jigs

    A KatieJig Dovetail Jig
    KatieJig Dovetail Jig Chris Baylor

    Don't want to cut your dovetails by hand? Then you probably want to use a dovetail jig. In this series of articles, read reviews of a variety of different dovetailing systems, to determine the that is right for your woodshop. Each of these dovetail jigs connects to the board being cut, which then allows you to guide your router with a dovetailing bit through the wood to cut matching pins and tails of many types of dovetail joints. Not every dovetailing jig cuts all types of dovetails, so consider not only the style of the jig but also the types of dovetails you'll need to cut when choosing a dovetail jig to use on your projects.

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  • 05 of 05

    Box Joints - A Dovetail Alternative

    Box Joints Chris Baylor

    Sometimes, a woodworking project may require a strong joint, but a complicated dovetail joint may not be an ideal choice. A simpler joint (albeit weaker and not quite as visually appealing) to consider is the box joint. Think of a box joint as a dovetail joint with square pins and tails. This joint is still connected using glue as the major strength of the joint but without the locking ability of the dovetail joint. Fortunately, you can crank box joints out all day using a table saw and a simple jig. Learn how to make box joints in this woodworking article.