Types of dovetail joints and tips when cutting dovetails

Types of dovetail joints and tips when cutting dovetails

In this blog we want to share with you about the types of dovetail joints and tips when cutting dovetails for you to choose the right one for your case and to do it more effective.

Browse these articles:

How to make a dovetail joint with a saw?

How to make dovetail joints by hand?

Types of dovetail joints and tips when cutting dovetails

While a dovetail joint looks good, aesthetics are not the reason people make them. A dovetail joint is pretty sturdy and it does not come apart unless it is torn or split. So there are actually types of dovetails that hide that the pieces of wood are joined using that joint. Along with that kind of dovetail, there are a few others.

Through dovetail

A through dovetail is the most common type of dovetail joint that you see every woodworker make. All the methods above are used to create a common through dovetail joint. In fact, when you talk about dovetails with anyone, that is the type of dovetail that pops into a person’s mind.

Half-blind dovetail

A half-blind dovetail its name suggests is a joint where one part of the dovetail joint is hidden. In a through dovetail, you can see both pieces of wood, pin, and tail sides joining together. It looks like fingers interlocking together, you can see the fingers of both hands. But in a half-blind dovetail, you can only see the joints from the side since the tails are housed in sockets with the front cover. So instead of cutting the pins from the end-grain below, you cut them on a thick board on the surface at the end-grain in-depth.

Mitered or blind dovetail

In this kind of dovetail, you basically don’t cut the joint all the way through leaving the backside of the tail and the pins making the joint hidden from sight. So the tails are housed in sockets of the pin hiding the face of the joint while the pins are housed in the sockets of the tails hiding them as well. It is a very difficult dovetail to create and is often not considered when making dovetail joints.

Sliding dovetail

This type of dovetail joint is quite simple, basically a dovetail on the face grain and the edge-grain or end-grain of the board. It is often used in joinery to connect two pieces of boards perpendicularly. While it can slide in and slide out, it cannot be lifted out unless the boards tear.

Tips and tricks when cutting dovetails

  • When cutting by hand, make sure to rabbet the tail piece on the back side till the shoulders. This will create a lip on which you can hold the tail board and mark the pin board with more stability.
  • Chamfering the tail board from the backside 5mm under the face of the joints will help them slide into place much more easily.
  • When cutting on a table router using a dovetail jig, clamp the pieces tightly to the router since the router bit’s rotation will try to rotate the board as it cuts into it.
  • If you are using a table saw, take your time and patiently cut through the waste one pass at a time.
  • Measurements are everything no matter what route you take to cut dovetails. Whether it is by hand, a router, a scroll saw, or a table saw, if the measurements are wrong the joints won’t sit right.
  • Always make sure that the pieces you are using to make dovetails are square and milled properly. If they aren’t square it will upset all the measurements you take and the joints will not be square.