Through Dovetail

Through dovetails are the classical way to make corner joints and possibly the most aesthetically pleasing. They can be made by hand or by using a router and a dovetail jig. If the set-up time is discounted, the jig is quicker and probably more accurate. However, the problem with most jig-cut dovetails is that the gaps between the tails and the width of the tails is the same dimension. When cutting by hand, the tails can be made wider than the pins, which gives a pleasing hand-made appearance.

Making through dovetails by hand requires some practice, but the results can be well worth the effort. A typical application is for the corners of a drawer, where the back meets the sides.

FIG 4.3

Making a through dovetail.

1 On the end of the plank where the joint is to be made, use a marking gauge to scribe a line corresponding to the thickness of the plank, then mark the angle for the slope of the tails with a sliding bevel. For softwood, the slope is usually 6:1.
3 Cut away the waste between the pins with a coping

5 Use the tails to mark the position of the pins with a pencil. Project the lines along the faces of the plank parallel to the edges to mark the sides of the pins. Cut down the sides of the pins with a tenon saw and continue to form the rest of the pins using the same procedure as for the tails.

FIG 4.3

Making a through dovetail.

2 Scribe the line along the base of the waste area with a marking knife, and then cut the sides of the tails with a

4 Remove the waste up to the line with a bevel-edged chisel. Place the chisel on the line and hold it perpendicular to the surface, then strike it with a mallet.

2 Use the tails as a template to mark the pins with a sharp pencil.

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