Dovetail glue-up

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Forum topic by Kirk650 posted 08-20-2016 04:36 PM 398 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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272 posts in 172 days

08-20-2016 04:36 PM

I’m making a nice toy box/blanket chest for my favorite niece. All corners of the box will be dovetailed. I’m using the PC 4212 Dovetail jig template as you would a Keller type dovetail jig. It works great and cuts the tightest fitting perfect dovetails I’ve ever produced – by hand or by jig. But…they are milled so well that I’m wondering if I can get glue into the joint. I’m worried that the glue will all be squeezed out, making more of a mess than a glued joint. I’m open for suggestions. Thanks.

Or maybe I’m just worrying too much.

9 replies so far

View marshallmosby56's profile


18 posts in 103 days

#1 posted 08-20-2016 05:33 PM

You are just worrying too much. There is nothing better than having a perfectly solid joint. Since your niece is a child (i’m supposing), probably why you’re making such a great thing yourself to gift. So my advice is that get on with the good work you are doing and see the good things that would follow just because of your positive mind.

-- :)

View HorizontalMike's profile


7067 posts in 2338 days

#2 posted 08-20-2016 06:04 PM

  • Tape off the inside of the panels/sides right up to the edge of the dovetails, before you glue. This will keep the squeeze out from puddling in the inside corners when you join them. Leave a little tape longer, so that it is easy to grab.
  • After joining the glued sides, and before any glue dries, carefully remove the tape from the inside corners. You will notice just how clean the tape has kept those corners… a good thing 8-)
  • The outside corners of the glued up box will be easy to sand/scrape clean, so that part is easy to clean up afterwards.

Good luck!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


4049 posts in 1623 days

#3 posted 08-20-2016 06:18 PM

If they are so tight you worry about squeezing out all the glue, size the glue joints to make sure it gets good penetration into the wood first.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View Aj2's profile


634 posts in 1222 days

#4 posted 08-20-2016 06:21 PM

Actually it is a good question.When I have tight fitting Dt I will add a little chamfer to the inside of the tails.It also helps to pare a slight hollow on the pin boards.
I hand saw and bandsaw my Dt jointery.But I bet these tips will apply to machined ones.


View AlaskaGuy's profile


2398 posts in 1733 days

#5 posted 08-20-2016 06:35 PM

Two things, go easy on the glue….dovetails don’t need a ton of glue.

I’ve had nice tight fitting dovetails that would go together without glue. When the glue was applied the wood swelled a bit and was next to impossible to assemble. So yes you can make them to tight.

If you have a couple of test pieces left over the a test joint using glue.

BTW what kind of dovetails?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Big_T's profile


119 posts in 781 days

#6 posted 08-20-2016 07:15 PM

Wow this thread has tons of good info for noobs like me. Want to make a nice piece of furniture for wife and DTs spell quality. Subscribed.

View Kirk650's profile


272 posts in 172 days

#7 posted 08-20-2016 09:08 PM

I’ll use Horizontalmike’s tape idea, and Aj2’s suggestion is something I had considered. Might as well get some use from the expensive chisels I’ve accumulated.

These are, or will be, through dovetails. And this is the hard maple box I was working up dye combos for. Finally, the dye issue is settled, I’ve figured out the dovetail jig, and you guys have clarified my thinking on the dovetail gluing. Panels are glued up and clamped, and await dovetailing.

The favorite niece isn’t a kid. She must be well into her 30’s, and the box and little rocking chair are for the little girl she’s tried so long to have…and finally did. Every time I decide to make something for her, my brother buys one. I finally told him to STOP. He promised he would, and I got started on the box, which is what she requested.

View Kazooman's profile


616 posts in 1376 days

#8 posted 08-20-2016 09:20 PM

Alaska Guy has a good point. You can make the dovetails too tight and when the wood swells a bit from the moisture in the glue you have a real problem. If you are having to pound the joints together with a rubber mallet or draw them down with clamp pressure you might be in for a hassle when you assemble them with glue. Part of the problem is how long it takes to spread glue on all of the pins and tails.

The blue tape in the inside is one of the best things that ever happened to woodworking. Do you plan to dye the box before or after the glue up? One of the real problems with the line of glue squeeze out on the inside corner of the joint is that it doesn’t take stain, dye, or finish exactly like the rest of the wood. You think you have wiped and scraped it all off only to find the problem when applying the finish. Avoiding the problem with the blue tape trick is great.

View Kirk650's profile


272 posts in 172 days

#9 posted 08-20-2016 10:11 PM

Kazoo man, that’s a good question on when to dye the wood. My present plan is to dye the inside prior to the final glue-up and dye the outside later. Prior to the dye, the wood is white, so a mistake will be very noticeable. I am stressing just a bit over that. It has to be right the first time.

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