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What’s up with this unusual dovetail joint?

Q:

I bought a bathroom vanity with dovetailed drawers, as shown above. Why do the drawer joints have such a wide pin at the top?
—Herb Miller, Chandler, Ariz.

A:

We haven’t seen that look before, Herb, but the joint appears to be machine-cut using a jig or production cutter. Without knowing the maker of the drawer or vanity, we can only speculate why it was made that way. So here are a few possibilities:

• Those drawer joints were cut on a machine that typically spaces the tails 1" apart. To avoid leaving a too-narrow pin at the top that might split or break off, the manufacturer opted instead to skip the last tail, leaving the wide pin.

• The builder had a dovetail jig set up for a drawer size shallower than your drawer, and either was unable to, or did not want to, alter it for this deeper drawer. Instead, he simply cut the tails and pins for the jig as it was set up, and assembled the drawer with the top inch or so as a simple butt joint.

• The builder chose that pattern simply for aesthetic purposes.

Regardless of the reason, the joint should prove strong enough to hold the drawer together for decades (as long as the original glue bond was solid).

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