View Full Version : Sliding Dovetails

Pedro Reyes
10-14-2003, 9:45 PM

I was wondering what is the best method (different for everyone) for cutting sliding dovetails. I've read the Superior Works' opinion of Stanley's 444 and it is not very good (to say the least). I also now that Knight makes a dovetail woodie of which I've heard no opinions. I've heard nothing but good things about some of their other planes but nothing on the dovetail model.

All that said. How do you fellow Neanders go about cutting a sliding dovetail? What do you recommend?

If describing what I want to do helps keep reading...

I've been visualizing a drawer chest (shaker style) in which the dust frames would be dovetailed (only the board that runs parallel to the front of the drawer, I assume the ones that run along the side of the chest would be in a dado. (newbie here). So in reality I'm talking about 3-4" of sliding dovetail cut across the grain.

Any pointers greatly appreciated.



PS: If you have time and have had experience working with Alder (other than for carvings) please share, does it finish good? was it easy? any particular characteristics? any advice?

Tom Scott
10-15-2003, 8:40 AM
Well, if I understand the problem correctly your sliding dovetails could be as short as an inch or so...basically the faceframe (or equivalent) of the case. If this is the case, you can easily do this without any special tools (just a saw and chisel) and it would really be more like a regular dovetail. In most cases it is not necessary to do a sliding dovetail for the entire shelf or dust frame, but you can get the look of one by providing a dovetail on the front 1" and a dado for the remainder.
There was an article in Fine Woodworking not long ago about the various choices and methods for case construction in which this was addressed. If someone else doesn't chime in, I'll look it up tonight.


Sam Simpson
10-15-2003, 9:15 AM
Hi Y'all,
Pedro, I would cut the dovetails with a saw and clean out with a chisel. I would make the dovetail the entire length of the side, thereby floating the dust covers as well. This points out the need for two handy tools. 1, a dovetail saw with crosscut teeth instead of the normal rip, and 2, a crooked handle pairing chisel.
Alder, is the mainstay of many furniture shops. I use it extensively as a secondary wood and as the primary on many occasions. It is light and very easy to work. When stained and finished with an antiqued distressed effect it is easily disguised as cherry, mahogany, walnut etc.
Regards Sam Simpson.