Machine Cut

Machine Cut Dovetail Joint

A lapped dovetail joint can he cut with a hand-held power router, using a fixed-finger dovetail jig which enables both the pins and tails to be cut simultaneously. It is a relatively inexpensive jig that produces equal-size, regularly spaced pins and tails. The joint is perfectly functional, but it is necessary to design the width of the components to suit the finger spacing of the jig. Test the jig's settings by cutting test pieces before you proceed with the actual work.

Mount the tail member vertically in the jig, face-side inwards, then insert the pin member (drawer front) face down, and butt its end grain against the tail member. Slide the pin member up to the jig's edge stop, then offset the tail member sideways by half the finger spacing. Now fit the finger template, which is marked with a 'sight line' that runs centrally down the row of fingers. Adjust it until the sight line corresponds to the butt joint between the two components.

2 Cutting the joint

Prepare the router, fitting the guide bush and dovetail cutter recommended by the jig manufacturer. Working from left to right, feed the cutter between each pair of fingers, keeping the router level and following the template with the guide bush.

TEMPLATE

TOP CRAMP BAR

EOGE STOP

FRONT CRAMP BAR

TEMPLATE

TOP CRAMP BAR

EOGE STOP

FRONT CRAMP BAR

3 Assembling the joint

Unclamp the test pieces and rotate one of them through 180 degrees to mate their jointed ends. If the joint fits snugly, cut a similar joint for the other end of the pin member (drawer front), butting it against the edge stop at the other end of the jig.

DRAWER FRONT AS CUT

drawer side as cut turn joint for assembly

Tight Joint Template

4 Adjusting the cut

If you find the joint is loose, increase the cutting depth of the router slightly. If the joint's too tight, raise the cutter.

5 Modifying sockets

If the sockets are too deep, adjust the finger template forward. If the tail member projects slightly, set the template backwards.

4 Marking and cutting the tails

Mark out the tails with a dovetail template, and square their tips across the end grain. Saw and chisel out the waste as described for cutting the pins in a lapped dovetail joint (see page 90).

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