When someone, woodworkers and non-woodworkers alike, hear the term ‘dovetail’ they usually do not imagine a dove’s tail. The picture something similar to the photo on the right. Dovetails are generally either what can be called ‘half-blind’, or ‘through’. In the furniture my classmates, myself, and other artisans create, you can see this joint used very routinely. Drawers, especially, are a dovetail gold mine. The through-dovetails on the back of the drawer are the best possible joint to maintain square and strength. While many like the visual pattern that these interlocking pins and tails create, in some areas it isn’t always appropriate. Generally speaking, through-dovetails on a drawer-front isn’t visually appealing, which dark squares of end grain breaking up the graceful flow of face grain. Not to mention that from a cabinetmaker’s perspective, it requires more work to run a groove for the drawer bottom that is stopped before the end of the board, as to not be visible from the front of the drawer. This is a prime example as to where half-blind dovetails would be perfect. They are the perfect compromise of aesthetics and strength. Viewing the front of the drawer, one does not see dovetails at all, therefore not breaking up the flow of grain, nor interrupting any other flow in the piece or furniture. The half-blind dovetails, however, still give the visually interesting pattern as through-dovetails, when the drawer is open. As stated, these are the two most common, and generally most practical, dovetails seen in fine furniture. Yet, like everything in woodworking and in life, there is always an exception or two. This is exactly what I want to focus on in Part 2. I want to show you as many dovetail variations I have used or seen used in a practical manner, through photos and descriptions. I look forward to sharing this with you and hope you will enjoy it! I am shooting to have it done by Friday, but should be done sooner than that.
-- Mike Ogden, http://www.mogdenfurniture.com/