Half blind dovetailed drawers are great, but clamping the joints properly can be challenging. Using clamping blocks that apply pressure exactly where the dovetail pins and tails join is crucial. These simple-to-make clamping blocks do the trick.
I’ll show you how to make a batch with just a few machine setups. Once you’re done you’ll have a full set, and you’ll be ready to assemble your half blind dovetailed drawer boxes with ease.
The setups to make the clamping blocks shown here are designed for 7/8″ on-center half blind dovetails. That’s a very common dovetail jig spacing, but you need to confirm the spacing of your jig, and adjust the setups if necessary. The steps given here will make a set of twelve 9-5/8″ long clamping block and twelve 4-3/8″ long clamping blocks. That should be enough to cover your needs for most, if not all, of the half blind dovetailed drawers you make.
Step 1: Cut 3 pieces of birch or maple to 3/4″ x 5-1/2″ x 10-11/16″, these are your “stock” boards. Any closed grain hardwood will do. Don’t use softwood or an open grain wood. Follow the “Dado Layout” illustration above when you cut the dados to reveal the “pressure feet” of the clamping blocks.
Step 2: Set up an 11/16″ wide dado blade in your table saw and cut the dados. Start at one end, cut that dado, flip the board end-for-end, and cut the dado on the other end. Continue the process until you reach the center of all three stock boards.
Measure carefully, following the drawing, as you set the fence position. Measurements shown are between the blade and fence.
Step 3: Trim away the ends of the stock boards so they end up centered and 9-5/8″ long. Cut the first end so the overall length is 10-5/32″, flip the stock boards end-for-end and make the second cut at 9-5/8″ long.
Step 4: Rip the stock boards into 3/4″ wide strips. Each stock board will produce 6 strips and a thin piece of waste. Check out this story for tips on ripping narrow pieces.
Step 5: Cut six of the strips into 4-3/8″ lengths as shown in the “Trim Layout – Short” illustration above.
This is what you get when all is said and done; twelve 9-5/8″ long clamping blocks, and twelve 4-3/8″ long clamping blocks. These sizes have covered all of my half blind dovetail drawer assembly needs in the past, but it would be easy to modify the dimensions should you find you need other lengths or different pressure feet spreads.