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How to Make Dovetail Joints

These step-by-step instructions explain how to make dovetail joints for a project by using various templates and a dovetail jig.

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making dovetail joints
  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Place the Wood Block

Insert the templates into the jig. Place the setup block against the fingers at one end of the jig.

Next, place a wood block on top of the fingers. One end of the block should rest against the rabbet cut into the edge of the setup block. The rabbet provides the correct distance that the block should hang over the fingers. Clamp the block in place.

clamp block in place

Step 2: Attach the Appropriate Bushing

Now, take the jig to the router table. Use a standard straight bit and a bushing. If the router table does not have a standard 1-3/16" bushing opening, then use a universal adapter to hold the bushing.

attach appropriate bushing

Step 3: Cut the Dovetail

It's time to cut the dovetail. Follow the template with the bit. Make a rough pass then make a second pass to clean up the edges.

cut the dovetail following the template

Step 4: Place the Fence

To create the mating piece, turn the jig around and place the fence in the jig. The fence allows the board to be set vertically. Use the setup block to allow for proper spacing.

Clamp the fence into place. Use the setup block again at the other end of the jig to ensure that the cut will be square. Clamp the other side of the fence in place, then clamp the block onto the jig.

the fence allows board to be set vertically

Step 5: Cut the Mating Piece and Assemble

Again, make two passes at the router table to cut the dovetail. The bit doesn't need to be reset.

Put the two pieces together to complete the quick dovetail joint.

Tip: To change to a different template; first loosen the knobs on the jig. Then, drop the new template in place. The templates are recessed on the back so they cannot be inserted incorrectly.

make two passes at router table to cut dovetail