Cabinet Fabrication: What Is A Dovetail Joint?

What Is A Dovetail Joint?

Are you searching for an answer to “What Is A Dovetail Joint?”  If so you’re likely choosing elements for your new cabinetry.  Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling an older home you want to know you’re getting the best of everything.  The type of joints you choose for your cabinetry and cabinet drawers will affect how long they last and how they look.  Learn about the dovetail join in this post.

What The Dovetail Joint Is

A dovetail joint is a type of joinery technique utilized by woodworkers to fabricate strong joints between sections of wood.  It is considered the premium long lasting joint that is preferred by discerning homeowners and builders.

Types Of Dovetail Joints

There are a number of types of dovetail joints which all share the angled “finger” and hold section or sections.  Some dovetail joints feature a single joint in the case of sliding dovetails or it can consist of a number of interlocking sections of wood on the edges of the sections of wood.  Read more below to learn about he types of dovetail joints.

Secret Mitered

The secret mitered dovetail is one where there is no visual evidence at the edges of the joint.  This is also commonly know as the full-blind mitered joint.  The secret mitered joint is used when the end grain of the sections of wood should be hidden.  This is common in finer furniture and less common when the dovetail is used for woodwork that will be hidden inside cabinetry such as drawer boxes.

Secret Double-Lapped

The secret double-lapped joint is almost identical to the secret mitered with one minor difference.  This difference is that a thin section of wood will show at the edges of the adjoining sections of wood.  This can provide a clean edge look that some woodworkers enjoy.


The half-blind dovetail joint is a joint where one side of the joint shows end grain but the other is hidden.  This is where the name “half” blind comes into play.  Half of the joint is hidden while the other will show the end grain of the joining boards.  Many times this can be great for wood joints where the end grain will be hidden at the back.

Through Dovetails

A through dovetail joint is one where the ends of both board show at the corner or joint.  This is a very common type of dovetail and desirable by many homeowners as it shows that a finer type of joint has been included in the fabrication of furniture or cabinetry.  Some of the very best drawers, cabinets, and furniture are made with the through dovetail joint.

Sliding Dovetails

A sliding dovetail joint is one where the joint is made up of one dovetail channel that runs the length of the first board.  The second board’s edge is shaped to fit inside that channel and is then slide into that channel to make the joint.  Sliding dovetails are typically not used in finer wood joinery as they require space at the edge of the channeled board to make the joint.  It cannot be made at the very edge or corner.

What The Dovetail Joint Is Used For

Dovetail joints are used to make the longest lasting finest wood furniture, timber framing, cabinets and more!  Even log cabin construction can be done with the long lasting and strong joint that  the dovetail joint provides.  Dovetails are one of the finest joints as the wood itself is all that is needed to make a durable joint.  The best joints are made by high precision woodworking equipment and reinforced with quality wood glue.  The do not require staples, nails, screws, or any type of metal fastener or dowel to hold together.

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