Beyond the box: Let It Slide
Even without the use of expensive jigs, you can use dovetail bits to make other strong and attractive joints. For example, use a long dovetail slot (socket) inside a bookcase or entertainment center, then machine a long tail on each end of a shelf, as shown right. The resulting joint, besides adding beauty to the case, also keeps the case sides from bowing. And, if you don't glue the shelf in place, you can remove or replace it at any time.
Or, use a sliding dovetail joint instead of a stub tenon for making rail and stile panels, as shown below right You'll still want to glue the joint, but again, you won't need clamps for this assembly. Just be sure your panels are in place prior to gluing the frame.
One tip for cutting sliding dovetails: The tapered sides of the dovetail slot tend to trap chips in the slot as you cut. So precut the slot with your tablesaw, or a router and a straight bit, as shown below, to remove as much material as you can before routing the dovetail. If pre-cutting proves impractical, proceed slowly with the dovetail bit, backing it completely out of the cut frequently to clear chips and debris from the slot.
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