Dovetailing Decisions

Chris Marshall photo

I’ve mentioned this previously, but in the April issue of Woodworker’s Journal, I built a printer stand with hand-cut dovetails that hold most of the assembly together. On a project this straightforward, I figured adding dovetails offered a good excuse to brush up on my hand-tool skills and add some pizzazz to the design. I could have used box, rabbet or even butt joints instead. All would have worked just fine for the task. But my goals were to practice sawing and chopping and to make the project more interesting.

Which leads me to a question that I promise isn’t intended to stir up a hornet’s nest. I just would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you incorporate dovetails in your projects? If yes, what are your motivations for doing so? Do you machine them with a favorite jig (please tell me which!), or do you get out your saws and chisels and cut them by hand?

I think dovetails are one of those “bars” many of us set as an important measurement of skill. They are not the be-all and end-all, but I can understand the many reasons to try to make them. And, of course, they’re beautiful when executed well! What do you think about dovetails? I hope you’ll share!

Chris Marshall, Woodworker’s Journal

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