Dovetailed drawers are overrated
The cover of Fine Woodworking #208 shows a drawer constructed with pinned rabbets. The cover line and title for the accompanying article is “Fine Drawers Without Dovetails.” Evidently, the notion that a drawer without dovetails could be fine sends some woodworkers into a tizzy. I can understand their reaction. Dovetails are idolized by most woodworkers, especially hobbyists. Given that idolatry, it’s not surprising that some would take the suggestion that a fine drawer can be made without dovetails as heresy.
I like dovetails too. In fact, I use them to make all of my drawers. But I’m not slavishly devoted to them. And you shouldn’t be either. Just because some crusty woodworkers on internet forums look down their crusty noses at drawers made with joints other than the dovetail doesn’t mean they’re right. Don’t let them constrain your technique and design. In the end you need strong drawers that are attractive, and there are many ways to make them. Don’t let blind allegiance get in the way of beautiful furniture.
|More Dovetail Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
• Router-Cut Sliding Dovetails
• Make a Tapered Sliding Dovetail
• How to Cut Sliding Dovetail Joints
• Half-Blind Dovetails
• Basics of a Half-Blind Dovetail Jig
• How to Cut Dovetail Joinery
A pinned rabbet joint, for example, is strong, attractive and looks much more handmade than, say, a dovetail machined with a router. Also, pinned rabbets are easy to make. You can use a dado cutter at your table saw, or a rabbetting bit in your router table.
Just in case I haven’t made my point clearly, here it is. Dovetails are nice, but aren’t the only nice drawer joint around. If you can handcut (or use a tablesaw) to make attractive dovetails, go for it. But if you can’t, use another joint, like a pinned rabbet. Check out this article by Matthew Teague for other options.
Of course, we’re all entitled to our opinions and here you’re even allowed to express it. So tell us what you think in the comments below. Is there room in fine furniture for drawer joints other than the dovetail?
Look ma! No dovetails! Mosheim chose not to use dovetails when he mades the drawers for his desk. Check out the blog he wrote about the drawers. By the way, take note that the earth hasn't stopped spinning.
This is fine woodworking. The elegent curves and fine craftsmanship mark this desk by Dan Mosheim as truly fine woodworking.