Sliding dovetails... to glue or not to glue

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Forum topic by nwbusa posted 01-13-2013 06:46 AM 1107 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View nwbusa's profile


1017 posts in 1372 days

01-13-2013 06:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sliding dovetails sliding dovetail

I’m building a small set of shelves and am using sliding dovetails for the first time. Just curious if it’s customary/necessary to glue the joints. They will be a tight fit without glue and I’m not sure how effectively I’d be able to glue them anyway. I was thinking of pinning them with a small dowel at one end to allow for wood movement.

Any voices of experience here will be appreciated.

-- John, BC, Canada

11 replies so far

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

5860 posts in 1466 days

#1 posted 01-13-2013 07:56 AM

You have the right idea, pin or glue at one end only.


View pintodeluxe's profile


4185 posts in 1900 days

#2 posted 01-13-2013 08:23 AM

Slide 3/4 of the way home, then apply glue to the remaing 1/4 of the tail. Then tap it with a rubber mallet to fully seat it.
If you sand the buried part of the tail, it will assemble easier.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View crashn's profile


522 posts in 1552 days

#3 posted 01-13-2013 12:47 PM

if possible, pin with dowel in middle, that way the wood can move in either direction

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View NiteWalker's profile


2728 posts in 1663 days

#4 posted 01-13-2013 01:21 PM

What Willie said.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View helluvawreck's profile


19499 posts in 1953 days

#5 posted 01-13-2013 01:30 PM

Watched Garrett Hack build a small tool cabinet on video over at and he pretty much did what Willie said.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View nwbusa's profile


1017 posts in 1372 days

#6 posted 01-13-2013 08:30 PM

Thanks guys for the responses. Going to assemble today, will post pics when completed.

-- John, BC, Canada

View nwbusa's profile


1017 posts in 1372 days

#7 posted 01-14-2013 07:24 PM

Here’s the result. I didn’t use any glue in the DTs as they were a very tight fit, but I did pin them with a small dowel (which is glued in).

-- John, BC, Canada

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5784 posts in 2671 days

#8 posted 01-14-2013 07:26 PM

Smashing now you can dissasemble when moving them if needed love those shelves. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View MonteCristo's profile


2098 posts in 1275 days

#9 posted 01-14-2013 07:56 PM

Looks great ! My only quibble would be that the pin should be quite close to the front so that all the movement is all backwards and the fronts stay flush. I tried this joint on an old growth Douglas Fir bookcase. I found the edge grain fir didn’t exactly slide easily, making for a fairly hair-raising assembly !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Viktor's profile


455 posts in 2505 days

#10 posted 01-14-2013 08:27 PM

I made a bookshelf with sliding dovetails without glue ( ) It is solid and I had no problems with it.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

8538 posts in 3139 days

#11 posted 01-15-2013 01:39 AM

Beautiful work!

Really COOL!

Thank you.

I really don’t think they ‘needed’ glue…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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