"Fishtail" Box--A Jointery Experiment

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Project by danriffle posted 09-11-2008 03:57 PM 6660 views 9 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a technique I’d been wanting to try for a while—sort of a round dovetail that I dubbed the “fishtail”. It took a bit of setup to be able to cut the joints and they are far from perfect on this first attempt. However everything did line up okay, though some sanding was required to get some of the pins and tails to fit together. And, I didn’t cut the pins quite deep enough—as you can probably see in the pictures they are about 1/32 to 1/16 below the sides of the box. It’s not glued and holds together VERY firmly. I think I’ll leave it that way over the winter to see how much it loosens up.

The woods are cherry and birch [edit—oops, that’s Poplar] (the bottom, which you can’t see, is a scrap of pine).

Next, will come a chest with “Fishtail” drawers.

24 comments so far

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 3803 days

#1 posted 09-11-2008 04:00 PM

That’s different – nice job – how about a blog so we can all give these a try?

View Pathpounder's profile


98 posts in 3891 days

#2 posted 09-11-2008 05:03 PM

That’s a pretty cool look. I would also be interested in a how to blog.

View danriffle's profile


73 posts in 3571 days

#3 posted 09-11-2008 05:41 PM

Okay, I’ll work on a “How To”. I’m setting up some better jigs as the initial setup was a bit scary at times.

View Cov's profile


51 posts in 3544 days

#4 posted 09-11-2008 06:17 PM

That is a neat look – I would like to see how you do it too. I like the way you used two different colors.

-- Cov, Loomis, CA,

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3710 days

#5 posted 09-11-2008 06:27 PM

I can think of at least 1 way to make the tails but am at a loss for the pins….please enlighten us thanks rt

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View Microsuffer's profile


52 posts in 3562 days

#6 posted 09-11-2008 06:33 PM

Cool experiment Looks similar to the Leigh “Bear’s Ears” scheme. Like everyone else, I’m waiting for the messy details.

-- "Those are my principals, if you don't like them....I have others." - Groucho Marx

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3711 days

#7 posted 09-11-2008 06:48 PM

This is a cool joint. I have a Route-R-Joint jig at home that allows similar joinery. You lay one piece flat and cut it on a template with a 1/8 inch vertical spiral upcut bit. Then, the joining piece gets turned 90 degrees where the endgrain is parallel with the table and you cut it with the same bit on a “reverse” matching template. It works good as long as you pay close attention to the setup. Nice job, I like this joint.


-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3872 days

#8 posted 09-11-2008 07:07 PM

One more vote for a blog on how to do this. They look very interesting.

View Nippy's profile


5 posts in 3554 days

#9 posted 09-11-2008 07:55 PM

Makes you wonder if the fishtail may be less prone to causing spliiting as there is less of a stress point like a conventional joint?

Any ideas?


View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1229 posts in 3996 days

#10 posted 09-11-2008 09:13 PM

Ok, I’ll bite, how did you do this?

-- Bob A in NJ

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 3705 days

#11 posted 09-12-2008 12:21 AM

I’m going to venture a guess on the pins. A standard round tenon cutter on the ends with thicker stock, then plane it to final thickness and establish the flats?? Pretty neat looking however you did it.

-- Use the fence Luke

View romansfivefive's profile


302 posts in 3770 days

#12 posted 09-12-2008 12:55 AM

how? I gotta know

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View ChrisBabayco's profile


67 posts in 3925 days

#13 posted 09-12-2008 01:15 AM

These are very cool. Let me lend my voice to those calling for a blog- I think these would be really neat on a music box for my nieces. Nice job.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3720 days

#14 posted 09-12-2008 02:13 AM

That is really different, but I like the idea! I would love to know how you set it up.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

789 posts in 3830 days

#15 posted 09-12-2008 06:47 AM

Very cool and intriguing. Ok so how did you make the pins?

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

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