Dovetail Joints: What are they?
A dovetail joint is a connection between two pieces of wood which allows them to join together easily. They are used when joining two boards or other materials with no planks between them.
The most common use of a dovetail joint is to join two boards together with no planks between them. A typical example would be joining two pieces of plywood together. Another example might be joining two pieces of pine board together. These types of joints are called “dovetails” because they resemble the shape of a dove’s bill (the symbol for the bird).
How do I make a Doveshell Joint?
There are several ways to make a dovetail joint. You could drill a hole through both pieces of wood and then screw the two pieces together. Or you could simply drill a small pilot hole into one piece of wood and then screw it onto the other piece of wood using screws. Either way will work fine for our purposes.
Another method is to create a notch in one side of each piece so that they fit tightly against each other without any gaps between them. When they are placed together they should look like they lock into each other. These notches that interlock with each other are called “dovetails.”
Once you know how to make the notches it is just a matter of placing them together and then glueing them.
How to Cut a Dovestail Joint:
There are two ways to create dovetails. You can either make a router jig or simply hand cut them. The best hand cut dovetails use a special marking tool (pictured and priced below). This tool makes a very clean notch.
You can also make dovetails with a chisel, but it takes a lot of skill and a good eye.
It is easier to use a jig, but if you are just starting out, hand cut dovetails will be better for you at first. The hand cut method will help you develop the skill to know exactly where to place the notch for the perfect fit.
Making a Router Jig:
The router jig is made out of three pieces (plus the base). The two outside pieces are fences that guide your router (or in this case, jig saw) along the inside edge of the notch. The middle piece holds the material that is being removed. The only tricky part about this jig is making the notches that hold the material.
The outside fences are just rails that are nailed into place.
There are two types of jigs you can use to make dovetails: a router jig and a jigsaw jig. The difference between the two is the router one will give more accurate results, but it requires a router while the jigsaw one requires a jigsaw.
The jigsaw jig is made up of three pieces. The two end pieces are the same. The only difference between the two is the inside notcher (the one on the left in the picture above). This notch should fit over your jigsaw’s blade.
The outside notcher (the one on the right in the picture above) will be fitted over your router’s base. The middle piece will hold the material that will be removed. It has a notch cut in it so that when you run your jigsaw along the outside notchers, material will be removed and a notch will be created.
Making the Notches for the Jig:
There are two types of notches that can be used in this jig: the “traditional” notch and the “flush” notch.
Sources & references used in this article:
Dovetail jig by CMV Godfrey – US Patent 6,899,152, 2005 – Google Patents
Dovetail fixture by WC Dicke – US Patent 4,407,344, 1983 – Google Patents
Dovetail fixture by WM McCord Jr – US Patent 4,607,673, 1986 – Google Patents
Unlimited width dovetailing system with overhead clamp by AA Nuwordu – US Patent 5,421,384, 1995 – Google Patents
Dovetailing jig by KM Grisley – US Patent 4,428,408, 1984 – Google Patents
Apparatus for forming dovetail, box and related joints by RC Harkness – US Patent 6,076,575, 2000 – Google Patents
Joint jig for use with either a table-mounted or a hand-held router by RL Stottmann – US Patent 6,315,017, 2001 – Google Patents
Dovetail fixture by CW Mc – US Patent 3,800,840, 1974 – Google Patents