Newbie trying dovetails

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Forum topic by swampjack80 posted 01-31-2010 08:44 AM 1057 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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53 posts in 3043 days

01-31-2010 08:44 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question trick tip

I’m pretty certain this is a dumb question but here goes… While I’m not completely new to woodworking, I’m not really experienced either. Especially when it comes to joinery. I can do dados and rabbets and I’ve been practicing my mortise\tenon making and I’m doing okay with that. I started fooling around with dovetail joints on my router recently and discovered that I apparently don’t know how to make them. So here is my question… what is the proper way to go about aligning my router to make the dovetail the correct size? I’m talking about the part that slides into the hollowed out slot. (I assume this is called the tail?) I made a sliding dovetail joint on some scrap wood but it took about 100 tries to get a snug fit. I’m sure there’s a general rule of thumb here but apparently I don’t know it. Some help please – thanks.

-- "I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey." - Mark Twain

4 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#1 posted 01-31-2010 08:57 AM

It can take some time to get your jig set to get perfect dovetails.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TomHintz's profile


207 posts in 3393 days

#2 posted 01-31-2010 09:40 AM

Also, remember that the long the wood is, the worse a sliding dovetail joint is going to fit. If the wood has ANY deviation from perfectly straight or flat, the joint feel gets very tight quickly.
I have never found an easy way of making sliding dovetails that eliminates making test cuts and sneaking up on the right size for the tail. I’ve been at this over 30 years and I still sneak up on the right fit for the job at hand and am convinced that is the best way to do it for me anyway.

-- Tom Hintz,

View swampjack80's profile


53 posts in 3043 days

#3 posted 01-31-2010 06:48 PM

Well maybe it wasn’t such a dumb question afterall. I guess some things don’t always have an easy way. Thanks for the insight. Now I’m off to practice dovetails!

-- "I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey." - Mark Twain

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3245 days

#4 posted 02-01-2010 07:42 PM

on my jig it all comes down to bit height (just shy of 1/4”) to high to tight – to low = loose . pins are the male part , tails the female

-- -erik & christy-

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