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Dovetail Bits

Think outside the box joint

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Page 1

For centuries, the hand-cut dovetail joint has stood as a testament to the quality of the case, box, or drawer that beheld it. These days, thanks to routers and dovetail bits, even a beginning woodworker can incorporate this joint to enhance the simplest projects.

Dovetail bits come in an array of cutting angles—usually 7-14° —and heights (see photo, right), on both 1/2" and 1/4" shanks. Generally speaking, the greater the cutting angle, the stronger the joint. But beware: The acute angles on the tails make them more fragile as the cutting angle increases, and they can break more easily along the grain.

Because of its opposing-wedge action, a properly fitted dovetail joint self-tightens. This means you can use it to eliminate fasteners, such as screws or nails. You should still glue the joint, but you won't need clamps.

Continued on page 2:  How to tell your pins from your tails


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