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Thread: Box dovetails opinions

  1. #1
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    Box dovetails opinions

    I know there are a lot of variables, and Ive seen it both ways, but what do you think looks best on a dovetail box; front and back tails and sides pins, or vise versa? I think Im leaning toward front and back being the tail boards, but just interested in what others like best.

  2. #2
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    At the risk of being seen as contrary, I like neither. I don't really like to see much joinery on items like boxes... I find that obvious joinery calls attention to itself and I generally (but not all the time) don't really like that.
    -Howard

  3. #3
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    I prefer box joints for boxes, but would rather see the smaller presentation of pins on the front side if dovetailed.

  4. #4
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    I have been practicing making hand cut dovetails for a couple of weeks now and still have to progress further before turning to products. Your question is very timely for me. I tend to agree with the way you are leaning with the tails being displayed on the front.
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  5. #5
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    Hmmm, seems dovetails are not a popular look at all. Howard, I agree. I have always mitered, but thought maybe I was missing something given all the boxes made with dovetails. Think Ill just stick with the miters.
    Thanks all.

  6. #6
    Hi,
    I'm a little surprised that you haven't heard more support for dovetailed boxes. I think they're beautiful and timeless. I tend to celebrate the dovetails by placing the tails on the front and the pins on the side.

    There's no place for the word "better" in terms of designs for boxes. The design possibilities are infinite and any kind of joinery can be executed beautifully. It's down to your personal taste. There's another thread going on somewhere on this forum about a forthcoming book by a FWW editor called 52 boxes in 52 weeks. Here's a link to his website: http://www.mekwoodworks.com/52-boxes.html

    You can see his taste is more to the clean, contemporary side with less in the way of showcased joinery. Anyway, back to the subject, I think dovetailed boxes are gorgeous, and would vote for tails on the front.
    Edwin

  7. #7
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    I like the look of well-proportioned dovetails but I dislike the appearance of the obese pins made by carbide router bits as well as the zipper tooth appearance of dovetails cut by router and comb style templates. With the adhesives and other available joinery options available these days, dovetails aren't required for joint strength like they once were. They are fussier to make than a lot of other options so if they are going to be used and exposed, they should be pleasant to look at.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    Hmmm, seems dovetails are not a popular look at all. Howard, I agree. I have always mitered, but thought maybe I was missing something given all the boxes made with dovetails. Think Ill just stick with the miters.
    Thanks all.
    Some styles celebrate joinery (think Japanese or our own Greene and Greene) while others go for an almost naked look (think Scandinavian / Euro or our own Mid-century Modern). For small boxes I am OK with exposed DT's and would put the tails on the front and be subtle about it:

    dt example.JPG
    She said How many woodworking tools do you need?
    I said Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?


  9. #9
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    I'm of the "develop your own design aesthetic" school. As far as dovetails on boxes go, it depends partly on usage. Bigger, heavier boxes sometimes need the extra structural strength that dovetails provide. I think that smaller boxes and boxes with thinner walls are not a good fit for dovetails - mitres would be a better choice.

    Matt Kenney just released his new book, "52 Boxes in 52 Weeks: Improve Your Design Skills One Box at a Time." He doesn't use any dovetails in his boxes, but he voices his reasons and gets into the details of how his design process improved over repeated box builds over the case of a year. A good read.

    TedP

  10. #10
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    Boxes are fine places to show off your dovetails. Not many boxes are made for actual needs, they are mostly art so go for it.

    Mitered corners on boxes, trays and picture frames make me cautious. I like to saw slots and insert splines. They can protrude inside and be left or trimmed. I'll have to try extending them outside as features. Hmmm.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    I love the look of dovetails on small boxes. They are not needed for strength but they do look great. I use them whenever I am not pressed for time.
    Charlie Jones

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