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How to cut sliding dovetails joint with a router


Jack Gordon - June 10, 2019 - 0 comments

How to make a sliding dovetail joints

With a good router table and a good pair of bits, you can cut this super-strong joint to use in a variety of projects. Tight-fitting versions hold workpieces firmly without fasteners and still allow pieces with opposing grain to move slightly. You can also make loose fitting joint so the part slides freely.

The basic of making a sliding dovetail joints

Usually. you can make the tail the same width as the thickness of the stock you cut it in. For example, to join a 1/2″ thick drawer side to a 3/4″-thick front cut the dovetail groove in the drawer front with 1/2″ dovetail bit and cut a 1/2″ wide tail in the drawer side.

  1. In the beginning, you should mark the center of the dovetail groove on the workpiece. Chuck a straight or spiral bit in the router. It should be at least 1/16″ narrower than the thinnest part of the dovetail cut. For example, in 3/4″-thick stock, you might cut a 3/8″-deep groove with 14º walls, so use a 1/4″ straight bit set 11/32″ deep. Next, set the router table fence so the cut will center exactly on the bit. After that, proceed to hog out most of the groove’s waste. Do this to tall workpieces before going to the next step.
  2. Install the dovetail bit and adjust it to full cutting depth but leave the fence where it was. Start to make the cut and use a scrap to back up the cut.
  3. Use scrap stock while adjusting the router to make the tail cut. To adjust, leave the bit at the same cutting depth. Lay a rule on the router table and adjust the fence so it aligns with the cutting edge of the bit at the tabletop height.
  4. Stand the workpiece on end with either face against the fence. Cut one side of the tail, rotate the workpiece and then cut the other side of the tail.
  5. Test fit the tail in the dovetail groove, it should slide into the groove with firm hand pressure. To adjust the tail width, move the fence out. If there is a gap between the pieces, lower the bit slightly and recut. If there is a gap at the bottom of the groove, raise the bit and recut.

Bonus:

How to make a router trammel

Obviously, you will be needing a good trim router or a good plunge router for this task. A normal wood router can do the task just as fine.

Here is how to make a router trammel

Start with a length of 3/4″ plywood that is about 12″ longer than the radius of the largest circle you want to cut. Shape one end to match the router’s base, Cut the neck portion of the beam 4″ wide. Center and cut a 3/8″-wide slot through the beam. On the bottom, widen the slot to 1″ and 3/8″ deep for the bolt head.

Cut the pivot base from the same plywood. Drill a 3/8″ hole for carriage bolt 1″ from the front edge.

To use, first drive a screw through the base and into the center of the circle to be cut. You can attach a temporary pivot block to the workpiece using double-faced tape and drive the screw into the block. Or you can attach the jig to the underside.

Finally, adjust the base and arm to position the router bit where you want the cut, then tighten the wing nut. Start the router and rout the circle using a straight bit.

Other router table technique: feed direction, cope and stick, molding on router table and making raised panel door here.

Source: WoodMagazine

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