Dovetail joints on a piece of furniture are one of those features that make it say “master carpenter” rather than “IKEA”. Traditional hand-made dovetails require accurate measurements and even more accurate sawing and chiseling, skills that may take years to develop. A slightly less artisanal method is to use a router and a dovetail template; the router makes perfectly straight cuts while the template makes sure it goes only where it needs to go.
If you haven’t got one of those templates yet, check out [Guy Perez]’s design for an adjustable dovetail template that’s easy to produce with a 3D printer. It consists of ten separate pieces mounted on a T-rail, which enables them to slide sideways and thereby generate pins and tails of varying widths. The T-rail is mounted on a wooden body with an integrated clamp to hold the target piece, as well as an endstop to provide a reference for all measurements.
As you can see in the video embedded below, the resulting jig is easy to use and should result in near-perfect dovetails each time. [Guy] made the CAD files available as well as detailed instructions on their design, so you can easily adjust them if you need pieces with a different tail angle or want to use thicker wood.
While this jig will make cutting ordinary dovetail joints a lot easier, you can still show off your manual skills by making an impossible mallet. Want to join metal bits instead? Check out this cute little dovetail cube.
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