through dovetail

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Forum topic by paulcoyne posted 01-15-2010 05:36 PM 1620 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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133 posts in 3298 days

01-15-2010 05:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

hey all i am making dovetail boxes and am finding it quite teadious glueing up all the joints would love to here everybodys tips on glueing up dovetails and also clamping dovetails.. any help would be much apreciated…

-- thats not a mistake... i ment that

8 replies so far

View SNSpencer's profile


133 posts in 3291 days

#1 posted 01-15-2010 06:13 PM

OK, here are a few tips. Yes, it is teadious so I would suggest starting with a small boxs until you get the hang of it. (By small I mean no taller than the width of your hand or so).

You don’t need to apply glue to both the pins and tails, just the contact surfaces on the tails. Otherwise you will be dealing with a lot of squeeze out.

Stop short of the where the inside seam will be when applying the glue so that when you do have squeeze out it won’t end up on the inside of the box. It really sucks to try and remove dried glue from the inside corners of a box.

Have plently of clamps on hand. For a small box as outlined above I can usually get away with four clamps and maybe some chaulks to spread the pressure along the entore joint. For larger boxes (taller), they usually call for eight clamps. Here is an example.
Dovetail Box Clamps.

If you need a little more working time you have the option to dilute your glue just a bit. Also, keep a wet rag on hand to remove excess squeeze out from the exterior of the box. This will make the following finishing steps a lot easier.

If I think of any others I will get back to you.

-- Jef Spencer - Refined Pallet -

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3724 days

#2 posted 01-15-2010 06:29 PM

Hi Paul, I like what Spencer has said thus far. I may or may not qualify to answer your question but I might have a helpful thought. We dovetail all of our drawer boxes for all of our kitchens and anything we make. I just love the looks of the dovetail and the long history behind the joint.

First, we use a Akeda Jig and PC router. I spent a solid hour fiddling with the bit height in order to acheive a tight fitting dovetail. Now when we cut our dovetails, the tails fit into the pins snug. I can actually assemble one of our drawers without any glue and install it into a cabinet without it falling apart because of the tight fitting dovetail joint. OK, so I do use glue in all of my joints, I am just pointing out that if your dovetail is tight enough I do not see the need for clamps. We slide our bottom part into a groove and the ensure the box is square and the once it is squared up, we pin the bottom in place on all 4 sides and the set the drawer aside to dry before finish sanding. We never even use clamps at any point, we do use a rubber mallet to get the joints together nicely.

One reason we may not qualify as a good answer is that we build with HB dovetails. I do suspect if and when we utilize through dovetails our process likely will be the same since I will ensure the tails fit tight into the pins.

Hope this helps some.

-- .

View Ger21's profile


1075 posts in 3308 days

#3 posted 01-15-2010 07:12 PM

I like to use polyurethane glue. You have to be a bit careful so you don’t get glue everywhere. But, it gives you a long working time, and actually acts like a lubricant, allowing tight joints to go together easily.

-- Gerry,

View JimmyNate's profile


124 posts in 3528 days

#4 posted 01-15-2010 08:22 PM

My initial response to the clamping issue is what Jerry said…with well cut dovetails, no clamps should be needed. I use the Portal Cable jig which can do both throughs and half blinds and didn’t break the bank.

-- "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit." ---Aristotle

View Jamal Hamka's profile

Jamal Hamka

7 posts in 3231 days

#5 posted 01-15-2010 08:46 PM

hi paul. I build alot of half blind drawers each year and have constantly tried new techniques. i avoid the “glue stain issue” all together by spraying one coat of sanding sealer on what will be the inside of the box before i rout my tails. i use yellow glue for assembly and no clamps.. the excess glue comes right off with mineral spirits and after 45 minutes the drawers are ready for finish.

hope this helps

-- “My love for woodworking involves a constant exploration of new techniques and ideas”

View paulcoyne's profile


133 posts in 3298 days

#6 posted 01-15-2010 09:40 PM

the joints are very tight so tomorro i might try glue them without clamps i also use polyurethane glue just love the stuff so strong (titebond) to keep the inside clean i tape the inside edges with tape before assembely (when i have the patience)

-- thats not a mistake... i ment that

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3428 days

#7 posted 01-15-2010 09:55 PM

i use an “L” shaped 90 degree jig and glue up one side at a time – works great and perfect square with little fuss (don’t have a pic)

-- -erik & christy-

View TheDane's profile


5535 posts in 3840 days

#8 posted 01-15-2010 10:28 PM

I use blue painter’s tape to mask the insides of the joint … just tape right along my scribe line. I use polyurethane glue and try to minimze squeeze-out. Depending on the size of the workpiece, I use either F-clamps or bar-clamps, but only clamp with light pressure … just enough to keep the box from moving as the glue dries.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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