Gluing up half blind dovetails

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Forum topic by RipFence posted 02-05-2015 04:24 PM 1770 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RipFence's profile


77 posts in 2717 days

02-05-2015 04:24 PM

Hello All:
I have a question for you joinery experts about gluing up drawers with half blind dovetail joints. Some of my joints have come out with absolutely zero clearance. Some tapping is required to get it together and the joint sides align perfectly with the edges of the drawer front. I’m concerned that if I have glue on the sides of the socket, that glue will get pushed to the bottom and prevent the joint from going all the way together.
I can think of few possible ways to proceed:
1: Only put glue on the sides of the tails. That way the glue will only come out of the joint rather than being forced in. This might result in poor glue strength.
2: Cut away a little chamfer from the inside edges of the tails to leave room for glue that might get trapped.
3. Go ahead and use plenty of glue. If the tails won’t go all the way in, just run the sides across the jointer to trim flush.
Of course I’m keen to hear other solutions. What say you?
Thanks in advance,

4 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3767 days

#1 posted 02-05-2015 05:29 PM

Can’;t have a big puddle of glue – but usually the bottoms of the dovetails are in the end-grain.

Closing up the joint can force glue into the “open straws” that make up the end grain, but it is limited.

Use the glue, but much of the strength is in the joint. You made a dovetail to hold the drawer together. The glue just keeps it in place

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View AmericanCraftWood's profile


8 posts in 1897 days

#2 posted 02-05-2015 05:53 PM

I second the glue going into the end grain.

Standard wood glue (PVA) is not gap filling, so assuming you’re using it, the glue shouldn’t add mass to the bottom of the joint causing it to not close completely. If you do experience that, apply clamps.

Nice work on such tight joinery by the way.

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View pintodeluxe's profile


5705 posts in 2838 days

#3 posted 02-05-2015 05:56 PM

Glue won’t affect the fit of half-blind dovetails, so go ahead and glue the whole joint. Two fat drops of glue per socket works great. I usually tap my drawers together by hand, and use only one diagonal clamp to square the drawer box.

Good luck with your project.

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

View RipFence's profile


77 posts in 2717 days

#4 posted 02-05-2015 06:00 PM

Thanks! They are actually through dovetails with false fronts. I used Duginske’s tablesaw method to cut them and posted a description over on OWWM. Not sure if you have to be a member to see the post. If so I can cross post here if there is an interest.

Nice work on such tight joinery by the way.

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