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Dovetail Angle Explained

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Learn the secrets to creating your joinery with the appropriate dovetail angle. While there are many ways to join two boards together in woodworking joinery, most woodworkers carry a respect and appreciation for the time-honored dovetail joint. It has been long revered for its beauty because of the way that it artfully joins two boards with a compelling display of intricate angles, while at the same time providing an eye-catching effect by the contrasting display of end grain interleaved with long grain. Of perhaps greater importance is the tremendous strength provided by this joint, which is a function of its geometry, with particular emphasis on the dovetail angle. The term “dovetail angle” refers to the slope at which the tails and pins are tapered to form their interlocking bond. It is important to incorporate the correct angle for a given project so that the joint will have maximum strength and durability.

What Are My Options When Choosing a Dovetail Angle?
Most commonly, woodworkers design their joinery using either a 1:6 or 1:8 dovetail angle. If these ratios are new to you, don’t worry, they are explained clearly in this video, along with information on why the angle matters.

When Do I Use Which Angle?
The choice of angle is largely driven by the characteristics of the wood species that is used in the project. The underlying reasoning, along with some guidelines for choosing an appropriate angle for a given situation, is covered in this video.

What Types of Dovetails Does This Apply To?
This video predominately refers to through dovetails, but the concept applies to half-blinds and it applies when you are learning how to make sliding dovetails. When cutting any style of dovetail, it is important to use the correct dovetail angle so that the fruits of your labor will last for generations.

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