Furniture Construction  

Dovetail Joint


Furniture Construction > Dovetail Joint Photo

dovetail joint on a cabinet drawer
A close-up photograph of a sliding cabinet drawer focuses on one of the dovetail joints.  This interlocking, "mortise and tenon" method of cabinet construction shows attention to detail, craftsmanship, and quality.  The use of dovetail joints increases the strength, performance, longevity, and beauty of wood cabinetry.

There are several ways to join furniture at an angle.

One way to join furniture is to smooth the ends of the boards that will be joined, glue the ends, then hold the ends together while the glue dries. This is called a butt joint. If the ends of the joint are angled, this is called a miter joint. This type of joint is often used for frames and molding. Because miter joints are weak, they often require additional strengthening with staples or other fastening hardware.

Another way to join furniture is to cut a shelf in one piece of the wood, and allow the end of the other piece of wood to be glued to the shelf. This joint, called a rabbet joint, is stronger than a butt or miter joint.

Still another way to join furniture is to cut a groove in one piece of wood, then glue, nail, or screw a full-sized board into the groove.

To join wider panels, many woodworkers use a tongue-and-groove joint. When a tongue is fit into a corresponding groove it creates five gluing surfaces, which makes this one of the stronger furniture joints.

A dovetail joint is one of the most sophisticated joints in furniture joinery. In this joint, cuts are made to both pieces of wood so that they interlock with one another. There are several different kinds of dovetails, and shapes and angles vary. Dovetails can be hand cut, or cut with a handheld router and dovetail jig. Dovetail joints provide a strength and durability that other joining methods don't have, and don't require glue or other fastening methods.

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Dovetail Joint on a Cabinet Drawer