5 Points About Dovetail Joints

8 Mar 2017

1. What Is A Dovetail Joint?

A dovetail joint is a joinery technique used in woodworking, traditionally used to join wooden furniture.  Dovetail joints are known for their inherent strength and resistance to being pulled apart (tensile strength). A dovetail joint has a series of pins and tails in a trapezoidal shape and once glued a dovetail joint has no need for mechanical fasteners.

Dovetail joints as a technique predate written history and have been found inside the tombs of ancient Egyptian mummies.  All our bespoke dovetail drawer boxes and premade drawer boxes use dovetail joints. Dovetails are considered a signature of craftsmanship and are an attractive feature of all Probox Bespoke and Classic range drawer boxes.

2. Why Use Dovetail Joints On A Drawer Box?

Dovetail joints are very strong by design and they also offer an attractive finish that is a true sign of craftsmanship. Professionally cut and glued dovetail joints are virtually impossible to separate.

3. How Do You Make A Dovetail Joint?

Dovetail joints are traditionally cut by hand with a saw and chisel. Probox achieves precision cut dovetails on leading-edge machines, of note are our plywood drawers as these are not easy to produce and we use only the best birch ply.

As part of the set-up, the dovetailing machine is programmed with the exact drawer box height and style of dovetail required, and then it quickly and efficiently cuts dovetails before the craftsman hand glues and finishes the drawer.

4. What Types Of Dovetail Joints Are There?

There are lots of types of dovetail joints, but the most popular at Probox are;

Standard or Traditional Pins And Tails

Standard dovetail joints have evenly spaced cut pins and tails, traditional dovetails have wide-cut pins and smaller tails. Standard cut pins and tails offer more strength in the drawer, traditional is not quite so strong but are often specified because of their traditional finish.





Half-Blind Dovetail Joint

Probox drawers are most commonly made with half-blind dovetail joints, as these dovetail joint uses are inherently strong, economical and very attractive. With a half-blind joint, the end grain is not visible from the front end, the tails are housed in sockets at the ends of the board forming the front of the drawer. These dovetail joints are only seen at the side of the drawer.

through Through Dovetail Joint

A through dovetail joint uses is where the end grain of both boards is visible where the joint is assembled, creating a stunning dovetail effect from all sides of the box. This very strong joint is also sometimes known as a lapped, English, or plain dovetail.






5. What Size Will My Dovetails Be?

Some dovetailing machines out there will only produce 25mm dovetails, but the precision dovetail machines in our workshops vary the size of the dovetail to suit the size of the drawer box, bespoke cupboard doors, or hardwood spice racks that we are making at the time.

The size of the dovetail itself is worked out by our precision cutting machine and this would be dependent on the height of the box. Half-blind dovetail joints are by far the most popular as they are more cost-effective to make than through dovetail joints.