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  1. #1
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    Sliding Dovetail Size

    When making a sliding dovetail joint, what is the best size to make the slot in hardwood? Equal to the width of the stock that the tail will be on? or slightly smaller? For example if using 3/4" stock should I make a 3/4" wide dovetail or 5/8", or 1/2"? If making it 3/4" or 5/8" is it better to use a 1/2" bit making multiple passes making the slot wider or use a bit for that size?

  2. #2
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    If you don't have any aesthetic constraints, I'd say wider would do well. Unless you're at the edge of something and need to maximize the remaining long-grain wood to one side or the other. Then I'd size it a little smaller, just to gain that extra bit of long-grain wood.

    As for the bit, I'm always more happy to sneak up on a size than to ever trust a bit to get it right. The bits may make more cuts, but they'll last longer because they're under less stress. They'll also almost always be easier to match sizes with. Just like picking "plywood" bits for dados for plywood shelves, you'd probably end up with some too tight and some too loose.

  3. #3
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    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    ...and sneak SLOWLY when you're sneakin'. 1/100" of side travel may well mean 1/10" of up & down "slop" in a sliding dovetail. Use very very very tiny increments to bring it home.

    -- Tim --

    Why is
    Basic normal psychology
    NOT a mandatory
    Grade-school class,
    Like reading
    And writing?


  4. #4
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    I like to use a straight bit to waste out the socket for the DT then switch to the DT bit to make the final cuts. That way, I can make a 1/4" depth socket in two passes with the straight bit, maybe leaving it a little shy of the 1/4" depth, then make the final cuts without as much wood removed in a single pass with the DT bit.

    The more wood you can leave in the neck of the tail, the more shear strength you will have, so I go as wide as I can.

  5. #5
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    This was helpful to me.

    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki....aspx?id=27113



    edit: You were asking about size, not technique. Guess I should've read your post more carefully. Everything I've read is the wider the better.

  6. #6
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    What about the depth? Same rule of thumb as dados? 1/3-1/2 the thickness of the piece being cut?

  7. #7
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    That's my understanding.

  8. #8
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    RE: Sliding Dovetail Size

    I stick closer to the 1/3 of the socket members thickness for shelves and such so as to maintain the greatest amount of thickness on the socket piece. You don't need a whole lot of that angle cut grain to add substantial strength.

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