Strong and Handsome: Half-Blind Mitered Dovetails
Router jig simplifies a challenging joint
Synopsis: Half-blind mitered dovetails combine the visual effect of a miter joint, with continuous grain wrapping around a corner, with the strength and classic look of dovetails. The hardest part is creating a perfectly true mitered shoulder surface between pins. But Michael Fortune’s router jig makes the process more straightforward by holding the workpiece at 45° so the pins can be routed with a straight bit for parallel cheeks, then angled by hand using a trim saw and chisel.
When you use half-blind mitered dovetails to join a case piece or a table, you combine the visual effect of a miter joint-continuous grain wrapping around a corner-with the strength and classic appearance of dovetails. I used the joint on my sideboard, where I wanted a sleek, uninterrupted surface on top, but welcomed the visual punch of through-pins at the ends.
Typically, creating a perfectly true mitered shoulder surface between the pins is the most difficult aspect of making half-blind mitered dovetails. But I built a router jig that makes the process very straightforward. It holds the workpiece at a 45 degree angle, and you simply rout with a straight bit between your layout lines. To avoid the look of template-cut dovetails, I cluster the pins at either side of the joint and use wider spacing in the middle.
With the routing completed, the cheeks of the pins are parallel. I angle them by hand. First, using a flush-cutting trim saw with its blade held flat on the mitered surface, I cut the shoulder kerfs. Then I chisel away the waste to finish the cheeks. Mark and cut the tails just a for normal through-dovetails. I cut the cheeks with a bandsaw and finish the shoulders with a chisel. Only after the tails are cut does the tail board get mitered. I cut the miter on the tablesaw to make the cut safe and accurate, I never run the mitered point against the fence. Instead, I guide the cut with a straightedge hot-glued to the workpiece and an auxiliary fence raised off the tablesaw bed.
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