Add a custom design to an already beautiful joint by adjusting the layout.
Even if you love to eat sandwiches, you probably don’t eat the same ham sandwich every day … sometimes you like baloney. And so it is with the dovetail joint. One option that many woodworkers don’t take advantage of when cutting through dovetail joints is adjusting the layout, or the repeating pattern, of the tails and pins. Sometimes this is because they use a dovetail jig, and its cut spacing is fixed, but sometimes it is just because they don’t think of the opportunity to vary, not only the spacing and width of the tails and pins, but the depth as well. High quality dovetail jigs (such as the Leigh D4) allow almost infinite layout options. Of course, if you cut them by hand, you have that flexibility as well. The drawings below show just a few differing dovetail joint layout options. They will get you started when it comes to designing your own custom dovetail layout. Perhaps it could even become your “signature” detail, so that anyone opening a drawer will know that you made it.
Dovetail Edge Styles
The lines of the outer edges of the joint are affected by four corner options. Starting with a half pin is more attractive, but there is no technical reason to prefer this option over a half tail. A mitered corner unifies the sides and top.