Saturday, April 20, 2013

Because I am left handed

It has to be because I am left handed that I have so much trouble getting the hang of things like this.

Off on another tangent this week. Had a friend that wants me to help him learn how to layout and cut half dovetail joints so he can make some planter boxes. So I made some practice cuts using 2x4's to get the hang of it because these can be pretty tricky.

I said sure but even though I had some experience from the recycle cabin last winter and warned him it would still be like the blind leading the blind.  Another cabin builder, Jon Anderson has a blog Peeling Logs and that is where I learned what I know about laying out these joints.

Bob has a sawmill and cut some 4 x 6's that he wants to use. He wants the finished pieces to fit together with no gap and I will suggest a 1" overhang on the ends. He might want them flush. Either way they look cool.

If you study the joint you can see that the slant angle on the bottom of the top piece locks the side piece below it in place. This how they work and need on fasteners to hold them in place except for the very last top piece.

Looking at the joints from the inside you can see that it makes a nice tight clean corner. Just one filler piece will be needed on each bottom side.

Here is what the ends of each piece look like.

Just cut blank pieces to the length and width of the box you desire. Cut the notches on the ends and stack them up. How hard can that be...?

Front view of the half dovetail that will result in no chinking gap between pieces when put together and a 1/2" over hang on the ends. The bottom notch is cut with a hand saw.

And a view of the joint from the end. The top notch is cut from the corner down with a hand saw then a chisel is used from the end to split with the grain and remove the piece.

Now lets say you are building a cabin out of 6 x 8's and want to leave a 1.5" chinking gap between the layers and a 2" overhang on the ends. Got it figured out? Make a pattern to trace and cut away.

Look on the bright side. If you burn wood to heat your house and and mess up at least you'll have plenty of wood to heat your house with!


  1. very nice! Did you use a template to cut the slope and depth of cut?

  2. I think for this one I just set a sliding T-bevel to the angle and layed out cut. This was a few years ago. I now do make templates and they work very well. Right now I am working on hewing logs for a 1/2 dovetail joint 12 by 16 cabin and putting it on the blog.