Dovetailed Cabinet Joints

Dovetailed joints


As the joint is visible on both surfaces it is confined generally to concealed work, though there is a growing tendency frankly to expose joints nowadays for their decorative value. For coarse work a slope of about 1 in 5 is often used, though many craftsmen prefer a lower angle, especially for decorative dovetails. For this it may be 1 in 61 or 1 in 6. The usual procedure is to saw the dovetails and mark out the pins from them, placing the dove-tailed piece in position and drawing the saw along each kerf in turn. When the pins are cut the saw is held on the waste side of the mark.
Some prefer to cut dovetails in their entirety and mark round with a marking awl. It is a good plan to make a dovetail marker, the sides of which slope at the correct angle. After practice, however, one learns to saw at the right slope without any guide.

Lapped dovetail.

The chief application of this is in carcass work, the top and bottom being lap-dovetailed to the ends. The advantage is that it is invisible from the sides. It is also invariably used for drawer fronts, though these have a special arrangement.

Double-lapped dovetail.

This is entirely concealed on one surface, and appears only as a thin line of end grain on the other. It is simpler to cut than the miter dovetail and is largely used for jointing bureau tops to the ends.

Dovetail angle.

Measure 1cm along one edge of a square corner and 6cm along the other. A line joining these points gives the angle.

Miter dovetail.

Since the dovetails are entirely concealed on all surfaces the joint is specially neat. It is used on the highest quality work for jointing the top to the sides when there is no false top, and for such items as plinths made in the best way. In this joint the pins must be sawn first and the dovetails marked from them as it is impossible to mark the pins from the dove-tails. The mitre of the lap is best worked with the shoulder plane. A special guide-piece with its edge planed at 45 degrees can be cramped at the back to serve as a guide for the plane.
Stopped-slot dovetail. For jointing a T stretcher to its end rails this is a handy joint. It is stopped at the top so that the dovetail cannot be seen from above. For a concealed position it could be taken right through.

Bare-faced-slot dovetail.

This is in a similar class to the above, but does not take so long to cut. It is often used for the center strengthening rails of plinths.

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