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22.11.2014 admin
Even if you love to eat sandwiches, you probably don’t eat the same ham sandwich every day … sometimes you like baloney. The end grain is always more dominant than side grain because of the structural nature of wood and because it soaks up more finish, becoming darker.
In this layout, we see the tails more powerfully as an entity in plan, and the pins take on a finesse because they are smaller. Probably the most dramatic version of the through joint is the hound’s tooth dovetail. Wondering how Sandor Nagyszalanczy’s Table Saw Dovetail Jig from the August 2010 issue of Woodworker’s Journal performs in the shop? Dovetails are simple in theory, but when you look at them more closely, they are a strong mechanical system.
The joint pictured is a variation of a typical through – dovetail, in this case dressed up with a mitered corner.
While there are many subtle variations of the dovetail joint, an example of which is the mitered corner, the two main categories are through dovetails — where, as their name implies, the pins and tails extend all the way through the workpieces. For the woodworker building furniture and cabinets, the sliding dovetail is a joint well worth mastering. Strong and versatile, the sliding dovetail joint has many applications, from case construction to leg-and-rail joinery. The inward-slanting walls of the dovetail groove prevent the tail from pulling straight out.
Those canted walls give the sliding dovetail joint a decided strength advantage over a dado. The mechanical lock of the sliding dovetail joint makes it easy to assemble, because the parts won’t fall apart while you look for clamps. The sliding dovetail joint has another singular advantage: If left unglued, it will allow the parts to move without coming apart.

Joined to the underside of a tabletop with an unglued sliding dovetail, a batten keeps the top flat while allowing it to expand and contract seasonally. Even without a back, bookshelves constructed with tight sliding dovetails are free of wobbling or leaning out of square.
This layout creates a boring pattern because the visual weight of each end grain is too similar. The band of end grain on the elevation is pierced by fine lines which emphasize the delicacy of the pins.
Starting with a half pin is more attractive, but there is no technical reason to prefer this option over a half tail. This system of joinery, while not as old as the mortise and tenon techniques that we have been looking at for the last few emails, is still ancient.
The joint mechanically resists tension, meaning that the tailboard can’t pull away from the grooved board.
One option that many woodworkers don’t take advantage of when cutting through dovetail joints is adjusting the layout, or the repeating pattern, of the tails and pins.
The vertical grain of the pins between the end grain of the tails is less refined than that on the layout below because the pins are so large. This prevents the edges from curling up and, if used on a large structure, resists the stress of lifting usually applied in that area. Typically, the completed tail piece then serves as a template for marking and cutting the pins in the pin piece.
It’s a hybrid of the dado and the dovetail, with a groove in one part, a tongue on the other. Two hands usually are sufficient for assembling even multi-part casework, like a chest of drawers. You apply a narrow strip of wood across the end of a glued-up panel to conceal its end grain and to keep it flat.

Sometimes this is because they use a dovetail jig, and its cut spacing is fixed, but sometimes it is just because they don’t think of the opportunity to vary, not only the spacing and width of the tails and pins, but the depth as well. The tail between the twin pins is the same size as the outer tails, lending a strong sense of continuity when seen in elevation. Because both the groove walls and the tongue sides are angled like a dovetail, the joint has to be assembled by sliding the tongue into the groove from one end.
Slightly bowed panels sometimes can be pulled into line without elaborate clamping configurations. The joint — unglued — allows the tabletop to expand and shrink across its width, even though the end strip isn’t elongating and shrinking.
If they are well-made, the combination of a large area for glue coverage associated with the mechanical quality of the joinery provides a durable and long-lasting joint. Most of us have opened drawers on an antique piece of furniture and have seen dovetails where it is clear that the glue has broken down … but the joint is still holding together.
If you are making dovetails by hand (or with a more sophisticated jig system like Leigh’s D4), the pattern can be varied to accentuate the beauty of the joint. The third reason that dovetails remain highly popular is that the complexity of the joint, not easily mastered by novice woodworkers, implies quality.
For many woodworkers, mastering the construction of a hand-cut dovetail is a goal that seems out of reach. For that reason, jig-guided dovetails are very much in the sweet spot of home shop woodworkers.

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