What's the thinnest wood worth dovetailing? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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What's the thinnest wood worth dovetailing?

Assuming I can get time in a heated shop (which looks likely) I'm planning to make a bunch of small boxes, picture frames, and things like that for friends and family for holiday gifts this year. With the boxes, though, I've run into an odd question: how thick should I make the sides?

I built a pencil box as an experiment, and I ended up making the sides with rabbets on the long sides for the short ends to fit into. That was 1/4" stock, so I felt like dovetails would be both hard to make and possibly not reliable. With 3/4" stock dovetails are the obvious joint, but that's a bit thick for the size boxes I'm thinking of.

So what's your line? Where do you stop making dovetails and start with some other joint?
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 09:20 AM
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3/8" is my limit. But, I'm not thrilled doing it.

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post #3 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 10:21 AM
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Andy, I've made a couple in stock as thin as 3/16" just to see if I could. You just have to be a little careful as it will splinter easily when cutting and chiseling.

I've made quite a few from 1/4" stock with no problems. Joint integrity in thin stock is probably better with the dovetails than other type joints.

A finer toothed gents saw (>17 tpi) makes it easier and an 1/8" chisel is a necessity.

Most have been little "keepsake" boxes.

I'll post a couple of pictures later if I can find some.

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post #4 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 06:12 PM
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I am interested to see where this topic goes. I too have trouble with soft woods. I don't have much of an issue with sharpening chisels. Just proper technique I guess.

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post #5 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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I won't likely use softwoods: the big box I made from 3/4" was pine, but I'm planning on mostly maple and red oak for these. They're easily and inexpensively available in various sizes near me, and they dent a lot less easily. Maybe poplar, if I decide to paint or can find some that doesn't have the usual green tint.
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 07:40 PM
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Here's a picture of one of the small boxes I've made. The sides are 1/4" material and the box is white oak about 4" square and 2 1/2" high. I cut them using my 14 degree marker. The really tough part is cutting with a very light touch - it's very easy to cut past the baseline with a heavy hand.

I hate cutting dovetails in softwood and would never try any this small with it.

What's the thinnest wood worth dovetailing?-small-box.jpg

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post #7 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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That's a nice looking piece! Thanks! I think at my current level of skill I probably don't want to go quite that thin, but at least it's reassuring that it's possible.
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-16-2013, 09:35 PM
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I do a lot of 1/4 " in small jewelry box drawers. Always hardwood- would not try pine.

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