Reply by jdmaher

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Posted on Adjusting plans to inorporate dovetails

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427 posts in 2544 days

#1 posted 07-12-2012 12:30 PM

Front and rear pieces are the pin pieces – they contain the pins. Sides are the tail pieces – they contain the tails.

For through dovetails, the pin pieces (the front and back) should be the width to fit the drawer opening in the face frame (minus a bit, maybe an 1/8”, for clearance). And the tail pieces (the sides) should be the as long as the depth of the opening in the cabinet (exactly, if you want the drawer faces flush with the face frame).

For half-blind dovetails, BOTH front and back, one would subtract half (get it?) the thickness of the front AND back pieces from the side pieces. If the front and back are BOTH 3/4” (true) stock, you’d subtract 3/4” from the length of the sides.

Several considerations:

- To answer your question, you should start from the size of the DRAWER BOX OPENING, rather than the size of the pieces you’ve already cut.

- If you half-blind, most people only do that on the front. Then you have to answer how you’re going to join the back to the sides to “figure” the lengths of your pieces. But, again, start from the size of the DRAWER BOX OPENING.

- 3/4” plywood is rarely 3/4” thick. That’s usually just a “nominal” statement of thickness. What matters is the actual, real, measured thickness of the pieces you are actually, really using. That is, fit, don’t measure.

- All of the above is for FLUSH faced drawers. Overlay drawers (where part of the drawer front “overlays” part of the face frame), add a complication.

Dovetails take a bit of work, but – with practice – they sure do look good.

Have fun!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

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