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 In Techniques

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Sliding dovetail joints are peculiar—sometimes, the two parts are meant to travel past one another; other times, they’re glued together. Whatever their purpose, making these joints is craftsmanship at its best. You need decent tools, an eye for precision, and practice.

In this article, you’ll learn a surefire method for getting fantastic results. I’ll describe the general principles involved, show you how to set up your machines and point out where you might get into trouble—and how to avoid it. If you haven’t made a sliding dovetail joint before, this is a perfect place to start.

Set the table

For this exercise, start by milling a clear piece of wood 1″ x 1-1/2″ x 36″. You’ll be routing this piece from end to end in both directions; to avoid tearout, the wood’s grain should be straight and parallel to the piece’s edges.

Your stock must be absolutely straight and flat, so it’s best to mill it about 1/8″ to 1/4″ oversize in thickness and width first.


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