A secret dovetail?

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by bandit571 posted 04-04-2014 12:08 AM 1417 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

been trying my hand at a few of those “Full Blind Dovetails” aka miter, or secret dovetails. From the outside, they look like a regular mitered joint. But, open the joint up, and a few dovetails appear. Anyway, did a little research, watch a bit of Roy Underhill, and made a sketch or two. Down in the Dungeon Shop, I had a few cut-offs of walnut 1×4s. Not very long ones, but something to putter around on. A bit of plane work to get them all about the same width, and matched two longer ones and two shorter ones. A Plough plane then cut a 1/4” by 1/4” groove for a bottom, just like one would do in making a box.

The intended victims. Used a high tech miter box to cut these to length

And a decent hand saw.

This will be the size of the “box”, more or less.

Laying out some dovetails, just a good eyeball, and a small square.

Now, the way these things work. There is a rebate on the end, in this case, about 1/2” deep, by 1/4” wide, just enough to leave a 1/4” lip on the end. The “top” and “bottom” of each board has a 45 degree cut, to form the miter part of the joint. Next, cut the PINS first, chop them out. To do so, a saw is used at an angle

There will be some over-cut. As long as it doesn’t go all the way through the rebated end. Once the pins are all chopped out, and cleaned up, lay the pin board on the tail board

And use a knife to mark out where the pins hit. BE SURE TO MARK WHICH WILL BE THE WASTE AREAS. Darken the knife cuts a bit, so I can SEE them. I then try to cut on the waste side. Then comes the chopping out, again

The 45 degree parts are sawn off, both sides of the board, and both sides of the joint. A nice, very sharp chisel carries the 45 bevel across the rebate

Then it is just a matter of fit, pare, fit,cuss, fit, pare, clean out, fit, cuss…....etc.

The goal is to have a nice tight miter joint on the out side

Just think, three more to go. I did have to re-grind a couple old beater chisels. Needed something to get back into them nooks & crannies. Ground the sides to a knife edge bevel. That small one

WAS a 1/4” wide H-F chisel. The edge of the chisel does have a slight angle to it, like a skew chisel. Profile is almost like a triangle.

Well, have four of these joints about done, still fine tuning the fourth one. The nice part about these, is they will stand up without any glue. Looks like a miter joint, but will hold itself together on it’s own.

Time to go and tune another joint, Corner “D” I do believe is wating to get done. After that? Stay tuned…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

3 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6283 posts in 3202 days

#1 posted 04-04-2014 12:22 AM

Very detailed work, great start

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View DIYaholic's profile


19706 posts in 2874 days

#2 posted 04-04-2014 12:42 AM

Now ya done gone and spilled the beans….
So much for keeping them dovetails secret!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View shipwright's profile


8165 posts in 2997 days

#3 posted 04-04-2014 04:18 AM

I just did some of these on my plane box. Unlike you, I didn’t do much research and missed the part about mitering the top and bottom elements of the DT’s so while my edge looked like a miter, the top and bottom of the joint showed like a rebate joint. It was OK though because I was veneering everything anyway. Now it looks mitered. :-)
I’m sure yours in walnut are a bit crisper in the end grain than mine in poop-lar but even with the soft material, I was impressed with the strength and rigidity of the joint.

Nice job on these.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics