Dovetails in Long Grain?

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Forum topic by wjhazelton posted 03-04-2011 05:20 PM 1947 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2062 days

03-04-2011 05:20 PM

I’m building a chest from red oak for a friend. The front and sides are flat panels with rails and stiles made from 3/4” stock and the panels from 1/2” oak plywood. I was considering using a half-blind dovetail to join the front and sides (the back will be plywood because of cost considerations.)

I know that dovetails are normally cut in end grain for strength but I was wondering if, since there’s no pulling force on the joint, it would work OK in the long grain in this instance.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

4 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2496 days

#1 posted 03-04-2011 06:50 PM

I assume you are cutting the dovetails with a router. You may have some problems with tear out.

Try it on some scrap wood first.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Loren's profile


8164 posts in 3069 days

#2 posted 03-04-2011 08:29 PM

The tails will break out easily unless they are wide. If you want to
make something decorative, you might consider mitering the corners
and using dovetail spline across the miters.

View swirt's profile


2107 posts in 2393 days

#3 posted 03-04-2011 09:07 PM

For long grain to long grain dovetails, it is not so much the pulling forces that do them in, it is the racking forces. As Loren says, if you must use them, go with the wider the better.

-- Galootish log blog,

View wjhazelton's profile


4 posts in 2062 days

#4 posted 03-05-2011 12:52 AM

Thanks. It sounds like not such a good idea, certainly for router-cut dovetails. I think I’ll get a lock miter bit and go that route instead.

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