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Tools & Hardware

What In The World Is a Dovetail Jig?


In the days before Biscuit Joiners, Kreg Jigs and other modern woodworking tools, carpenters building boxes and drawers used Dovetail Joints. Dovetail joints are extremely strong and difficult to pull apart. A good dovetail joint does not need glue to be strong and secure.


 A dovetail joint is a series of 'pins' cut to extend from the end of one board that interlock with a series of 'tails' cut into the end of the adjoining board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners. Dovetail joints are commonly used on drawer boxes and timber frames for barns and homes where a strong and tight joint is necessary.

The Dovetail joint is one of the oldest known woodworking techniques. Some of the earliest examples of the dovetail joints are in ancient Egyptian furniture entombed with mummies dating from First Dynasty, as well as the tombs of Chinese emperors. The dovetail design is an important method of distinguishing various periods of furniture.

The drawback to dovetail joints is the amount of time and effort required to make a good clean and tight joint. Traditionally they are cut with a chisel and mallet. Each pin must be exact to fit its corresponding tail and one joint may have multiple pins and tails all of which must fit precisely.

Modern machinery makes dovestails possible on a mass production basis, a joint that once took 15-30 minutes to create can be done in seconds using the right machine tools. For the home woodworker, a dovetail jig along with a router and dovetail bit, allows a quick and easy way to make very professional joints for any project.

You can purchase a Dovetail jig at your local Home Depot or on line at

Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

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Posted 2019-04-18T23:22:30+0000  by Mike_HD_OC Mike_HD_OC
I've had the Woodhaven for years. I bought the Incra router table fence 4 years ago and it is designed to be a dovetail jig. I've never been able to align it correctly. I really like my Woodhaven 7660.

As a side note, I make the sides and front a little bit wider than I need. Then I fine-tune them, making multiple passes on both sides with my jointer until it's exactly right, meaning the top and side edges are even with each other. It takes a little longer, but if I don't, with my bad eyesight, the edges are never even.

I'm amazed at the number of you that like the Woodhaven. It's usually not mentioned much as a favorite. If you want variable spacing with it, simply move the jig to where you want them. Of course, you also have to move the other jig the same amount.
Posted 2020-01-08T05:00:34+0000  by TimBramer
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