Sliding dovetail

At tool night this week I had some time after finishing my tenon saw refurb. Dean is making a small model of a classic case for demonstration (I think). I asked him about the sliding dovetails with which he attached the horizontal drawer dividers to the case sides. Dean is very generous in teaching what he knows. My experience has been that asking a question like this leads to Dean helping me do whatever it is. True to form, he helped me layout and cut this practice joint.


Normally the dovetail would be housed inside a dado. But I left that out of this practice piece to save time. The order of operations, if I recall correctly, is as follows.

  • Knife lines all around the rail where the dovetail shoulders will be (think of this as a tenon with angled cheeks);
  • Cut the cheeks, then shoulders on the rail;
  • Cut off some from the back of the dovetail. Dean doesn’t leave the whole dovetail on the end of the rail. The thinking is that this makes layout on the case side (next step) easier;
  • Hold the rail onto the case side and layout the female part of the dovetail on the front edge of the case side;
  • Extend the lines back from the front edge, and cut them with your crosscut saw;
  • Chisel out the waste;
  • Pound it together.
  • About johnjoiner

    Computer nerd by day, Dad and woodworker by night. Woodworking blog at
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    One Response to Sliding dovetail

    1. Nuevo says:

      I wish I was this diligent about recording my woodworking notes… These are a nice diversion.

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