Help with half-blind dovetails!

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Forum topic by BenR posted 06-01-2011 02:14 AM 1251 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BenR's profile


340 posts in 2655 days

06-01-2011 02:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I would appreciate any tips you LJs care to share. This is my second half-blind dovetail (the first one went better) and a multitude of things went wrong. First I marked it backwards, second I started to saw the wrong mark and then stopped, third I split the pin board trying to fit the tails in, and lastly, the tails do not come up to the baseline.
So, here is my question: how can I correct this ? (I’ve corrected the other mistakes as best I can). I just don’t see why the tails are held off the baseline. Adding pics so y’all can see what I mean.

-- Ben in Va

5 replies so far

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2804 days

#1 posted 06-01-2011 01:38 PM

Could be a number of things but this usually this happens when an inside corner or surface is not cleanly cut. All it takes is a very small surface that equals the space.

When you do get the pieces to go together, they may be loose. If this happens, it is faster to make a new side than to keep adjusting. The problems are from how you cut the wood and chisel the waste – on which side of the marking line and if you use a pencil or knife.

For your second set, you are doing very well. I make all of my drawers with dovetails and I always mill extra boards for the sides of the first few drawers – just in case. As a rule, I always make the smallest drawers first, if I make a mistake, there is less waste.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View neandernormite's profile


37 posts in 2599 days

#2 posted 06-01-2011 02:33 PM

From looking at the pictures I believe that dbray45 is correct on the problem. Somewhere in there you have the high spot on the inside not allowing the joint to close, putting pressure on and splitting the pin.

Sorry for the horrible paint drawing, but what you looking for on each line created by the dovetail is #2 ideally or slightly towards #3. As you can see with your piece what happens with #1. Take it apart and make sure every surface is flat or slightly leaning back. That’s the hard part about half blinds, on surface will throw of the whole thing.

Its looks like you already got allot of work put into that board, I would trim everything back a bit and even fill if needed to not remake the piece, unless of course you are trying to showcase the dovetails, which in that case if it don’t work there only one real answer, redo.

-- The confused powertool using galoot

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2804 days

#3 posted 06-01-2011 02:39 PM

Another thing you can do is to cut the sides a couple inches long. Do all of the half blinds first, if you make a mistake, cut off the extra. If all is good, trim the excess off the through dovetail ends on the back.

As for cleaning out the corners and edges, I use a magnifying glass and a good light.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View BenR's profile


340 posts in 2655 days

#4 posted 06-03-2011 02:34 AM

Thank you anji, dbray, and neander for your helpful comments. I trimmed alittle off the 2nd and 3rd pins,
reworked the back wall of the pins to make sure it was parallel, and cleaned out the corners again. Finally, it
fit! Thanks again.

-- Ben in Va

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20599 posts in 3133 days

#5 posted 06-03-2011 02:51 AM

It might be the radius in the corner of the light colored wood not letting the sharp corners of the dark wood drop down all the way. then if you cleared out the corner it would seem that the joint would be loose. It does not take much when a dead sharp corner is going into a cut slot without a dead sharp corner . Try cutting it out with a very keen knife edge from both directions into the corner…....Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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