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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Why are there so many methods of doing joints in drawer boxes? I'm reading about dovetails, both through and half blind, box joints, drawer lock router bits, miter lock router bits, simple butt joints, rabbet joints, and even locking rabbet joints too. It seems that most everyone thinks the dovetail is either best or just shows a mark of quality. Even people who don't know a thing about woodworking (my mom for instance) think that the presence of dovetails means a higher quality piece, and a lack of dovetails means lower quality. If I choose to use a drawer lock router bit, or straight bits to make a locking rabbet, or even just a plain rabbet joint on my work, does that mean it's inferior to dovetailed pieces? Personally, my favorite, and also what looks to be VERY strong to me, is the half blind dovetail look, but I don't have a jig for doing this and don't have the patience to use a pull saw for through dovetails, but I don't want to let this hold me back from making furniture with drawers.
 

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Once upon a time, back in the days of apprenticeships and guilds, the dove tail joint was the mark of an expert craftsman. An apprentice was not considered a tradesman until he could produce dove tail joints that were not only perfect joints, but matched each other exactly in all the draws of a piece of furniture. To some extend perfect hand sawn dovetails still are considered to make a statement about the skill of the craftsman even today.

However,

My personal favorite drawer joint is the lock-rabbet joint. They are quick and easy to make at the table saw and hold as well as most and better than some.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Do you just use glue alone on that or add any screws or nails?
 

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Usually just glue is all that is needed. If its going to be used for heavy stuff (think pots and pans or heavy tools) I'll add brads unless I want it to look extra special. In which case I'll drill the joint and add dowel pins.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Usually just glue is all that is needed. If its going to be used for heavy stuff (think pots and pans or heavy tools) I'll add brads unless I want it to look extra special. In which case I'll drill the joint and add dowel pins.
Dowels, now there's a neat idea. No worries lining those up after it's joined. Drill one hole, insert dowel, cut flush and you're done.
 

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Dovetails are so popular because it is a locking mechanical joint. A long time ago, the glues wouldn't hold very well on their own and would sometimes let go. A dovetail joint keeps everything together and tight regardless if there is glue or not in the joint. The ultimate corner joint for strength using modern glues is box/finger joints I believe. FWW did a test of them a while back.

Typically, hand cut dovetails are a mark of a skilled craftsman. By looking at those easy to see joints, one can extrapolate that into thinking that the entire piece would be that high quality. Ill fitting drawers/drawer joints would mean to take caution with purchasing the piece.
 

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I have not done half blind dovetails yet but plan to do so soon. I have used the drawer lock bits on some shop cabinets and they look good in my opinion. The lock rabbit joint is also a strong joint. and I think it also looks good. The lock rabbit and drawer lock are okay for false front drawers but for inset drawers I think the half blind dovetail is the best looking.

George
 

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Personal preference, for me, would be box or finger joints first, then dovetails. I like the look and quality of a dovetail more, but they are more time consuming, and box joints produce a similar effect, if not same quality joint. If I was charging an enormous commission for a piece, I would hand-cut every dovetail(hell, I'd hand cut EVERYTHING), but most of the stuff that I actually sell falls into the "ifs, ands, and whatnots", category, like multi-candle holders held together with half-laps or some such. The dovetails are for the stuff I make for home, for now. Just my opinion. If I had better hand sawing skills, tools, capacity, etc., it would likely be a different situation. Good luck!

Cam
 

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Why so many? Because drawers come in all sizes and shapes. No need for a complicated interlocking dovetail joint in the 5/16" or 1/4" stock of small jewelry box drawers. I set up my P.C. dovetail jig when I'm making drawers that will get lost of use and have to hold on to heavy stuff though. Just about any interlocking joint that won't come apart in the direction a drawer is pulled will work though. I"m not a fan of box joints on a drawer body for that reason. I've lived long enough to see the eventual failure when years of expansion/contraction and age has failed the glue and a tug on the drawer handle pulls the front off.
 

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I agree that DT's and box joints look very good, and can be a strong joint for drawers. They work best with solid wood drawer sides. I prefer to use ½" hardwood plywood. I may use the same species as the exterior. Plywood IMO, is more predictable than solid wood.

For plywood sides, I rip 8' lengths of side material, and wood stripping for the top edges, and glue and clamp it on the 8' lengths. Then when cutting up the sides, it's like a solid wood drawer side. A simple rabbet works good, and when the sides are rabbeted for the front and back, using glue, brad nails can be shot through the fronts on a slight angle to the sides. There is nothing showing from the sides when the drawer is opened.

Melamine can be used for drawers and can work out very well. Using a double rabbet with yellow glue makes for a strong joint. If the drawer seams are caulked, the interior can be cleaned easily. For a drawer that's used repeatedly, like a trash drawer, done properly, gives good service.

This trash drawer below is made with Melamine, with double rabbets, and has been opened and closed over 47,000 times.
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trash drawer.jpg






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I can cut half blind dovetails on a jig faster than I can cut box joints, so I usually put HB DTs on the front of the drawers and drawer lock joints on the rear.
 
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