Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sliding dovetails

To make things as difficult as possible I decided not to use normal dado's for the shelves, but a sliding dovetail joint. Never done that before, so I had to ask around what the best method is to make these with handtools. Luckily someone replied that the fit isn't too critical, because there is plenty of glueing surface and éverything is hidden from sight.

First I had to prep the wood. Most of this was done with powertools. Cutting a piece of wood from the last cherry plank, planing, resawing it on the table saw, and more planing and thicknessing, They ended up at the 10mm thickness I wanted them to be, It was a squeeze though, the thick tablesaw blade eats up a lot of wood. I really need a bandsaw!

Then I marked out the exact position of all the cutlines. I don't really measure at all, every mark is taken from the other parts, like here, the inside width of the cabinet. This method is much more precise then measuring with a rule.

For the sliding dovetail I first chop a small mortise at the end and mark the sides with a deep knife wall.

And then it's a matter of sawing the sides of the sliding dovetail socket. It';s going to be a half dovetail, so one side is straight, just keep the saw vertical, the other side is at an angle. To give myself an idea about this angle while sawing I set a sliding bevel in front of the board.

The male part is cut likewise. I didn't shoot a picture (sorry), but it is a matter of sawing the baseline and cutting the sloping part with a chisel. Only a little bit of material needs to be removed, so this is quick work.

And here is the result. Not perfect, but not too bad for the first time either.


  1. Hi Seek,
    I have a block of beech on which a made a 30 degree angle. ( the angle is to your liking of course )
    I use this block to position my saw against and make the two cuts. Two cuts as I prefer a full dovetail. I remove the wood with a hand router and there is the female part of your sliding dovetail

  2. That's for sure a great possibility too! But I was too lazy to make a fence and thought it didn't matter too much....