Housed Dovetails

A super-slick trick to make a super-strong joint.
By Geoffrey Ames
Pages: 57-59

From the December 2006 issue #159
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The housed dovetail joint is mechanically sound, historically correct for 18th-century casework and a hallmark of fine craftsmanship. It provides an accurate means of locating drawer dividers and runners, and is quite useful when making shelves. If you can mill stock straight and square, control stock thickness, make dados and operate a router, you can make this joint. When assembling case pieces or shelves, you will have little need for glue, screws or nails.

Dados alone have little mechanical strength, but with the addition of a dovetail socket and dovetail tenon, the joint is properly aligned and quite strong. This joint allows cases to be made without face frames.

When the housed dovetail joint is used for shelving, the shelves are prevented from cupping because the shelves are held flat in the straight, shallow dados.

From the December 2006 issue #159
Buy this issue now