Cutting Dovetail Joints With A Jig

Dovetail joints are often used to make the corners of drawers or cabinets, and could best be described as a 'finger locking' joint. They resemble two pieces of a puzzle that are put together. These joints are strong and attractive, but require practice to make well.

Handcut Joints

To make a dovetail joint by hand, first mark both sides of the joint so you can see the thickness of the wood on each side. Using a tri square and a marking knife, mark all the way around both pieces of wood.

Use a dovetail template to mark the joint pieces, then shade in the areas that should be cut off. This will help you avoid making the wrong half of the dovetail—if you are not careful, you’ll end up with two tails or two pins.

Put the wood pieces in a vice and use a fine-toothed dovetail, backed or tenon saw to cut.

Dovetail with a Router

You can make excellent and precise dovetail joints by using a dovetail jig on a router. Create the tails or pins, cutting both equal sides at once (both sides together or the front and back together.) Be sure to keep the router guide pushed firmly against the template.

Go from left to right for the cut the first time, then repeat from right to left, moving slowly and keeping the guide pushed firmly on the template to make a precise cut.

Cut the Opposite Sides

Dovetail joints are a challenging woodworking technique, but create strong and beautiful boxes and drawers.