Dovetailing for a hand-cut look
Keep your pins thin. Quality hand-crafted dovetails always display this feature.
I second the Leigh jig for the situation you describe. The ability to space the dovetails where you want them will definitely give the look of a hand-cut dovetail without sacrificing production that is needed when building several drawers at once.
Why not be honest and let hand-cut dovetails look like hand-cut dovetails and let machine cut dovetails look like machine cut dovetails? If you are trying to get the aesthetic quality of hand-cut dovetails, machine cut dovetails can be very beautiful without imitating hand-cut. Let's be honest in our industry and leave some room for real hand craftsmanship.
No woodworker can dovetail with the precision of a machine. "High-end" and "hand-made look" are seldom compatible goals. Do it right. Build to last. Cabinetmakers of yore cut dovetails by hand because they had no choice. We have better tools -- use them. If it will ease your marketing conscience, you can always faux-finish the drawer sides with cupids and putti. But if the drawer is functioning 200 years from now, it won't end in a landfill, fashion follies notwithstanding.
The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).
Comment from contributor A:
I have homemade router gadgets for making the little pins for this. You wouldn't want to cut a million tails or pins like this, but they will look hand cut - every one will have a slight variation in width. Of course, no one will apreciate the difference, unless you take the time to explain it to them.
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?