First Dovetail, First Jig

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Blog entry by Eric posted 01-21-2008 08:47 AM 992 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch


I was considering using dowels to help hold my boards together for my benchtop; specifically, those boards that are a little extra bowed. However, Matt of Matt's Basement Workshop has informed me that due to the considerable strength of face-to-face gluing, that dowels might not be necessary – even for bowed boards.

However, just in case, I decided to make a simple jig following Matt’s suggestion, which was:

Two pieces of wood, one attached to the top of the other to act as a lip, then just drill a hole at the required length from the edge. Then you can move it to where you need it and drill corresponding holes at the same depth.
This may or may not be what Matt had in mind, but I think it will work. And to give myself a little extra practice, I decided to dovetail (by hand) the two pieces of wood together. Overall, I was pleased with the result. The dovetail wasn’t perfect – there are a couple gaps that resulted perhaps from uneven sanding – but who expects perfection on their first dovetail? It’s a plenty strong joint.

As for the jig itself, I drilled a 3/8” hole at the general midpoint of a 2×4 face, and another on the top at the general midpoint of a 2×4 edge. I don’t think it has to be dead-on centered, so long as it’s not too close to the edge of the board. I cut a notch in the bottom to line up the hole with the line I will have drawn on the board, so my dowel holes match up.

The one thing I was disappointed in, though, was the holes themselves. The surface of the holes was a bit ragged, despite my having used a pretty new bit. Granted, it was a power drill bit and I was using it in my bit brace. But my brace held the bit just fine and I expected better. I chamfered the hole slightly with a countersink bit, just to take a tiny bit of the ugliness away from the hole, but still – I need to sharpen up my auger bits to see if they’ll do a better job.

I found myself really wanting this jig to look nice. But that’s silly – it’s just a jig! But I also realize that even in making jigs, we can practice the techniques that will make our actual projects turn out nicer.

[This entry was taken from my blog Adventures in Woodworking]

-- Eric at

4 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3825 days

#1 posted 01-21-2008 01:20 PM

Nice looking dovetail!

As for the hole, what type of bit did you use exactly?

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3851 days

#2 posted 01-21-2008 04:20 PM

Nice job on the dovetail. It is a beginning and to steal, I mean borrow, GaryK’s signature “the longest journey begins with a single step”.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4017 days

#3 posted 01-21-2008 06:47 PM

Steal away, I don’t own it.

Nice dovetail. The more you do the better you get.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3813 days

#4 posted 01-22-2008 03:07 PM

Tomcat1066: I used a regular round-shanked wood bit. Not a top-of-the-line brand, but not a Chinese knock-off either. And if I’m remembering the right bit, it was practically brand new. Could be because it is optimized for power drills?

-- Eric at

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