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Davonport Difference: The Dovetail Joint


Rebecca Silburn | 25 February 2016

At Davonport quality of build is of the utmost importance, and that’s why we use the best materials and methods when manufacturing your kitchen furniture. Whilst often it is the quality of wood and the finish that will be noticed first, the way in which it is put together is pivotal to a great kitchen cabinet and will ensure it stands the test of time.

In our new series, each month we will be looking at a technical element of cabinetry craftsmanship, to showcase the quality of our furniture interiors and describe why they make our kitchen cabinets stand out from the crowd.

This month our focus is: Dovetail Joints

What is a dovetail joint?
Dovetail joints are commonly used to join two wooden boards together at a right angle, for example attaching a drawer or cabinet front to the sides. This is the traditional method of joining boards in this way.

The join consists of tails and pins; a series of trapezoidal shapes are cut into the edges of both pieces of wood. Not only is it strong, but it also looks attractive, adding to its appeal for bespoke kitchen craftsmen.

One board has the tails (these are what give the join its name, as they resemble dove’s tails), whilst the other has the pins. The pins fit in between the tails to create a joint that is impossible to pull apart in at least one direction. An important factor which enhances the strength of the join is that there are more pins than tails; as per the images below, the joint ends with a half pin at both the top and bottom, helping to ‘lock’ in the tails.

There are two types of dovetail joint; through and half-blind. On the former you can see the tails on both sides of the joint, whereas on the latter the tails do not show on the front. We tend to use half-blind dovetail joints in our furniture (pictured) because the aesthetics are cleaner, giving a more pleasing finish.

Dovetail joints take a tremendous amount of skill to master. Whilst there are tools and certain machines to help the process, the finishing usually has to be done by hand, and it takes a very skilled craftsman to achieve the precision needed to ensure that the tails and pins fit together tightly.

Why do we use them?
Due to the trapezoidal shape of the pins joining the two pieces of wood together, the joint has huge tensile strength, making it extremely hard to pull apart. In fact, it is the strongest of all joints and holds together even without glue. This type of join is therefore perfect for cupboards and drawers whose function is to be opened and shut many times a day.

When it comes to quality craftsmanship, dovetail joints are one of the hallmarks - in fact they are one of the things it is advised to look out for if you are interested in antiques; their strength and the skill required to produce the joint is a sign of a well-made piece. At Davonport we create all our cabinetry drawers with dovetail joints in order to ensure its longevity and durability for many years to come.

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