Repairing failed dovetail drawer front

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by trictle posted 08-17-2015 10:11 PM 969 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View trictle's profile


3 posts in 1121 days

08-17-2015 10:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dovetail repair broken dovetails restoration

A question for the Lum-jockians here:
This is a 1970’s drawer front that has suffered numerous previous attempts at repairs. I think it’s all PVA glues so i’m thinking i’ll disassemble it, remove all the old glue and try some repairs with shims but I have a question: shouldn’t there be one or two more dovetails at the top? Seems like that is why it is failing from the top down. I figure i’ll just scab in new dovetails to compensate. Any other ideas?
Thanks guys,

7 replies so far

View CharleyL's profile


222 posts in 3359 days

#1 posted 08-18-2015 01:38 AM

What a mess -
I think if I had to do this, after removing the old glue I would re-cut the dovetails in the drawer face a size larger than the existing ones, including the left end where they seem to be missing. Then I would make a replacement side to fit the newly cut dovetails in the front piece. Then re-assemble the drawer with Titebond II and clamps.


View Mark's profile


911 posts in 1969 days

#2 posted 08-18-2015 02:55 AM

+1 Charley

-- Mark

View bondogaposis's profile


4720 posts in 2345 days

#3 posted 08-18-2015 06:14 AM

It looks to me like a cheap factory shortcut and left out the upper dovetails. I think if it was mine I ‘d save the drawer front and rebuild the rest of the drawer from scratch and dovetail the the whole front.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BadJoints's profile


103 posts in 1083 days

#4 posted 08-18-2015 06:27 AM

I would recut bigger dovetails in the front, cut the dovetails off the sides and cut new ones. The drawer would only be ~1/2” shorter than original. I certainly wouldn’t notice that.

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

View trictle's profile


3 posts in 1121 days

#5 posted 08-18-2015 10:44 PM

You know, I never considered just cutting off the old dovetails and cutting new ones…so focused on repairing what exists. You are right, 1/2” will never be noticed and then they’ll not fail again. Great idea!! Thanks guys, I knew I could rely on you for advice.

View BadJoints's profile


103 posts in 1083 days

#6 posted 08-19-2015 02:18 AM

Glad to help, would like to see a picture when you’re done so we can see how it turned out.

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

View rwe2156's profile


2920 posts in 1475 days

#7 posted 08-19-2015 01:20 PM

I would put a butter fly at the top to replace the missing dovetail.
Or a pocket screw?

Its a 70’s dresser who’s gonna criticize it?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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