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 In Techniques

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How to make sliding dovetails.

Hand tools are the way to go for this traditional joint.

Tapered sliding dovetails are multipurpose joints traditionally used for drawer dividers, holding legs in place on a pedestal table and attaching tops to case pieces.

The primary reason for a tapered joint (instead of a straight joint) is the reduced friction over its length. The tapered sliding dovetail gets tight only during the final fit, when it is ready to seat home. This reduced friction makes fitting much easier.

Once the joint is seated, it is extremely tight and often requires no glue. Hand-cutting this joint is easier and quicker than the lengthy process of setting up a jig and machine.

After incorporating tapered joints into much of my furniture, I’ve found them strong and multifunctional; I believe you’ll enjoy their benefits, as well as the challenge of cutting the joint, as much as I have.

Below, I’ll show you how to create a small tapered sliding dovetail, such as would be used for a drawer divider.


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