Make a Dovetail Box in 12 Minutes -- WOOD magazine


i'm bob hunter from wood magazine one of

the great joints for

case pieces or any kind of small jewelry

box or anything like that is a through

dovetail joint

it has a great mechanical advantage it

looks great

and it's also a hallmark of good

craftsmanship that a lot of people look

for in projects

but cutting these doesn't have to be a

difficult process

i like to cut them on a router table

using a simple jig

that i'll show you here this is a keller

jig there are three or four of these on

the market

it works the same as pretty much all of

them it's a simple process

but let me show you how to cut four

dovetail joints on this in 12 minutes

i have here four pieces that would make

it just a simple little box like i just

showed you

so the important thing is to get your

stock prepared ahead of time have it

machined to the right to the thickness

the right width and length ends have to

be square

get them all cut ahead of time and then

you're ready to start on there

so the first thing we have to do

to work with this jig is to mark the


on the ends of the board just simply lay

it flat on there

and just make a quick line across

and we'll do the same thing for the

other board

done now we need to find the center


of this board this will help us align it

on the jig

my board is four and a quarter so i want

to mark two and one eighth

there's my center point

okay now on my jig

i've taken the liberty of scribing a

center point on one of the fingers

for the i'm going to cut the tails first

so i'm starting with the tail side of

the template so i've scribed a center


and then i marked it with a little bit

of yellow highlighter just so i can see

it easier

so what i want to do is put this put my

board this is the tail board

i want to line it up so that my center

point is right on that

scribed line

and then i just want to clamp it to this


i'll use two clamps on each piece just

so it doesn't come loose while i'm


just to be safe now i want to put a stop

block on here against the side so that i

can do repeated passes

and make sure that every one is exactly

the same so clamp your stop block in


that looks good okay i've already


my tail cutting bit in the router now i

need to bring it up

and set the right height

the way to do that is we're going to

bring the top of the cutter

right up to that line that we just


so let me bring that down i want to be

just slightly above it about a

64th to a 32nd of an inch above that


this way when we glue the board the box

together those will be slightly proud

that you'll trim off

and that looks good there lock the

router in place

make sure my safety switch is off is on

and we're ready to go

now we're ready to route our first board


now just flip the board around like this

do the other end


go to our other tail board and do it as



okay now we're done with the tail boards

so let's take our stop block off

we'll need to need to change bits

over to our pin cutting bit

incidentally if you're making more than

one project go ahead and cut all your


while you've got that set up in place

it's easier to come to adjust it when

you're doing the pins than it is to go

back and set up the tails again

okay now let's set our jig off to the

side for

a second here what we need to do is to

take our board that we marked earlier

our pin board

we're going to take the tail board set

it right on here to mark

the location of the pins so that we know

where to align those

holding it flush with both edges just

simply make a couple of marks

right here

that gets lets us know where the pins

will line up

and then i want to put a center point

right in the middle of there

of one of those pins that gives me an

indexing point

now let's go back to our jig now we're

cutting from the pin side of the

template where the fingers are angled

and again i've got a scribe line on one

of the fingers so i want to take that

center mark that i just made

and i want to line it on there

bring my stop block back over

put it right up against there again

now i need to set the height the same

way again we're going to go right to the

just slightly above that line that we


the cutting edge right up there

right there looks good

and now because i want to make sure i

get a good fit i don't want to use one

of my

pieces so i've got a couple of test

pieces cut up my stop blocks in place so

i know that this one's good

and set up so let me get one of my test

pieces out

to make sure that our setup is correct

and now let's cut a sample joint here

i forgot my safety switch



okay now let's test the fit

in the pins

don't worry about any little snags that

are flying off you can sand those away


and that looks like a perfect fit they

they're just a little bit proud that

we'll trim off later

looks like we're good to go so

now let's set up and do

our pin boards

now to cut the other end of the same

board it's important that you keep the


face forward just flip it over put it

against the stop block

because your pins have to angle the same



okay now we've cut all our boards so


put our box together


and there you have a nice dovetailed

jointed box

all lined up and cut perfectly now the

before you would glue this up of course

you would take it apart sand the inside


cut the slot for your bottom or however

you're going to to do that

get all that done then you would glue it

up and continue on with whatever

piece you're making the beauty about

these kind of jigs is that they work

great on a router table but you can also

use them

in clamped in a vise with a handheld

router very simple very quick

just zip them out and you're ready to go