Dovetail joint is one of the most common and widely used joints in wood construction. This type of joint is suitable for box construction such as, jewelry box, drawer, cabinet, portable box and other piece of furniture where strength will be needed.

Dovetail joint is difficult to pull apart most especially when glue is added, that’s why it doesn’t require any mechanical fastener. Dovetail joint is very strong due to the way the tails and pins are shaped. The pins are cut in series from the end of the piece interlock, same with the tails on the other work piece, they both have a trapezoidal shape. Dovetail joint cannot be made manually, it required a skilled workmanship for perfect dovetail.

Basically, there are different types of dovetail joint, their angles of slope varies according to the purpose of joint, type of wood used and type of work. However, different slope does not affect the strength of the joint in different types of wood.

Types of dovetail joint

Half-blind dovetail

In this type of dovetail the end grain of the board are not visible from the front of the joint. In Half-blind dovetail, the tails fit into the mortises in the end of the board, that is the front of the item will not show their ends. This dovetail is mostly used fasten drawer fronts to drawer sides. Craftsmen use ‘Half-blind dovetail for works which the end grain will not be visible from the front of the joint.

Fig 1: Half-blind dovetail

A sliding dovetail joint

In this type of dovetail, intersection occurs within the field of one of the boards when the two boards are joined at right angles, it provides the interlocking strength of the dovetail. The joint is gotten by sliding the tail into the socket.

Fig 2: A sliding dovetail joint

Secret mitred dovetail

Secret mitred dovetail is used in box work and high class of cabinet. It is totally hidden from both outside faces by forming the outer edge to meet at a 45 degree angles while hiding the dovetail internally within the joint, but it still offers the same strength obtain in dovetail joint.
The ‘secret mitred dovetail’ joint also called a ‘mitred blind dovetail’, ‘full-blind dovetail’, or ‘full-blind mitred dovetail’.

Fig 3: secret mitred dovetail

Secret double-lapped dovetail

Secret double-lapped dovetail present a very thin section of end grain on one edge of the joint. It is also used for carcase and box construction to hide the dovetails to be visible. This type of dovetail is similar to secret mitred dovetail.

Fig 4: secret double-lap dovetail

Through dovetail

This dovetail is also known as plain dovetail joint. In Through dovetail the end grain of both boards is visible when the joint is assembled. It is often covered by veneer. Through dovetail are common in carcase and box construction. It is referred to “English dovetail” when used in drawer construction.

Fig 5: Through Dovetail