Dovetail joint arrangement: why and how?

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    Is there a reason to arrange the half pieces at the edge of a dovetail to be pins. Would it be wrong to shift everything over half a tail and have half-tails at the edge of the board?

    The “dovetail box” project on this site ( the “pencil case” ) places the tail on the long board and the pins on the end. Is there a logic to this or is it arbitrary? Is it simply a case of the small end piece being more attractive showing the square ends of the tails?

    David B

    I think it may be more aesthetic than anything but I’m not sure I fully follow the question.


    It is a matter of taste for a small box like that or even a jewelry box. I suggest you do 2 of the boxes, one one way and the other the other way and see what you prefer.

    Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.

    "If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln

    Rowdy Whaleback

    I wondered the same about the tails on the sides or ends. I reasoned that it has to do with the engineering of the joint. It is more likely that things are going to slide back and forth (say pencils in a pencil box) and push against the joints. With the pins on the ends they are less likely to burst open…?


    If the joints were unglued, the likelihood of things to slide and press on the joint might matter. Since the joints ARE glued, unless you’re storing hammers, I don’t think that matters. 🙂

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