A Perfect

by walker t. weed iii

Hand-cut dovetaHs are strong, durable, elegant and easy to cut. They belong in every woodworker's repertoire.

he hand-cut dovetail joint has always been a feature of finely crafted furniture. Just watch the dealers at the preview of any antique auction. They eyeball the joinery used in drawer construction to peg the value of a chest. When the bidding starts, the pieces with hand dovetailing command a hefty premium.

The dovetail joint has achieved and maintained its lofty reputation for good reason. When properly made, it pleases the eye, is stronger than any other corner joint, and stands up under the rigors of everyday use. Best of all, with practice, hand cutting fine, dovetail joints is not difficult or time consuming.

The strength of the joint comes largely from the interlocking of the parts; dovetails go together and come apart in only one direction. Furniture is designed so that the stress of normal use is in a direction that cannot pull the joint apart. For example, a drawer should have the tails (the parts that have the dovetail shape on the face of the board) on the drawer sides and the pins (the parts that have the dovetail shape on the end grain) on the drawer front and back. This way the stress of pulling the drawer open by the front won't pull the joint apart.

In this article, I'll explain step-by-step how to cut a through-dovetail joint, one in which each piece goes entirely through the other leaving end grain visible on both faces of the finished joint. But the explanation

Dovetail cutting tools are few and simple; a saw, a few chisels, layout tools and a means to hold the wood.

Inter locking parts give dovetais mechanical strength.

Scribe the baseline for the dovetais.

Inter locking parts give dovetais mechanical strength.

Scribe the baseline for the dovetais.

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