The dovetail is one of the most instantly recognisable of all the woodworking joints. Not only does it look good; it’s also an incredibly strong and efficient construction. Here’s a particularly attractive variation on the theme
The design of the dovetail joint gives it considerable mechanical strength, needing little adhesive to hold it. The joint is also seen as the epitome of the woodworker’s art, and a well-proportioned and properly executed joint can add greatly to the overall impression of a piece of work.
There is a variety of dovetail designs, from fairly coarse carcass dovetails through to needle-fine drawer dovetails. Although there are many standard dovetail layouts, it is perfectly acceptable to vary the spacing and regularity of the pins to suit your particular taste, so long as the strength is not compromised.
Here are instructions for making a houndstooth dovetail, which incorporates different pin sizes. It can be made both as a through or lapped joint; I’ve described making the through variety here.
Before you begin, it’s vital that your timber is accurately planed and thicknessed. The width of both components must be identical, but their thicknesses can be different. The ends to be jointed must be perfectly square.