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Dovetails for Drawers




This tutorial deals with making dovetails for the front, sides, and back of House of Miniatures drawer kits using thinner basswood than provided in the kits. Before anyone gets picky I know these are technically box joints and not dovetails but at this scale I think they are good enough (a box joint is a form of square dovetail with more glue area than a butt joint but without the mechanical joining aspects of a true dovetail)

I will be posting a full tutorial on how to convert a House of Miniatures Three Drawer Chest (Kit 40011) drawer using the kit parts as the drawer front and as measuring patterns in the near future so you can convert any kit drawer

In the first part we are going to dovetail the sides and back

These are based on 1/16" basswood adjust as needed for other wood. These are for making simple dovetails for drawers to replace the out of scale drawers found in House of Miniatures and other kits.

Step 1: Cut drawer pieces 3/32" larger than needed (1/32" overhang at each end)


Step 2: Draw a line 3/32" in from each end


Step 3: Draw lines across both pieces 1/16" apart (see note on sizing dovetails below)


Step 4: I color every other one on each piece so I know which ones to cut out


Step 5: Cut out the colored pieces (I used an #11 bladed knife) and clean it up with folded sandpaper

Step 6: Glue the pieces together you can see how each dovetail extends past the end by 1/32"


Step 7: Let dry then clean up the outside joint with sandpaper



In the second part we are going to dovetail in the face plate or drawer front. In this case we are going to go more for the appearance of a dovetail, or box joint, than a true dovetail, although it will increase the glue area and therefore the strength of the joint. This is only a sample not an actual drawer so it is a bit rough it is just to show the concept. 

Step 1: This is based on a 1/16" drawer side and a 1/8" this drawer front. Draw a line 1/16" from the joining edges on both the front and side. On the front piece draw a line 1/16" down the end (down the middle of the end)



Step 2: Draw lines across both pieces (and down the end of the front piece) 1/16" apart.



Step 3: I color in every other piece to show what needs to be removed



Step 4: Cut out the 1/16" squares from the side piece and clean up with folded sandpaper


Step 5: Cut out the 1/16" squares from the front piece and clean up with folded sandpaper. It isn't necessary to cut all the way down into the piece all that is needed is to remove a triangular shaped chip (see photo)


Step 6: Sand the cut edge of the side piece to a 45 degree angle (see photo)


Step 7: Stain the front piece as desired

Step 8: Glue together, let dry, and clean up the joint with sandpaper


Note: Many times the 1/16" dovetails wont fit exactly on the drawer so I have posted an alternative method at the end to create correct dovetails for any size drawer

Alternative Dovetail Size Method (use this to replace the 1/16" measurement):

Step 1: Measure the exact center of the piece you wish to dovetail and draw a line (1 on the drawing below)

Step 2: Measure the exact center between line 1 and each end and draw lines on both sides (2 on the drawing below)

Step 3: Measure the exact center between the existing lines or the existing lines and the ends and draw lines (3 on the drawing below)

This breaks any size drawer side, back, or end into 8 evenly sized dovetails


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If you notice the top dovetails in the front it would be best if instead of the drawer side having the "tongue" the drawer front did it would maintain the illusion better

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