Dovetailing plywood

      Successfully dovetailing baltic birch plywood. March 20, 2001

Question
I'm dovetailing Baltic birch plywood and experiencing a lot of tearout. I am using a Porter Cable Ominjig 24" with a 1 1/2 horsepower Porter Cable Router. I am using a 1/2" 12 degree dovetail bit, brand new.

Do I need a bit with a smaller angle? Do I need to score the plywood before each cut?

Forum Responses
A shallow preliminary cut across the face of the work-piece is usually a good idea when using this type of jig. It quickly scores the surface fibers and prevents tearout when exiting the material each time a pin/tail is cut. Make this cut after getting work pieces aligned and ready to go, then start cutting dovetails.



I dovetail wider stock than I need and rip it to width afterward, because the bit usually blows out the last (unbacked) pin.


When you score, be sure to use a climb cut. Be careful when traveling in the opposite direction with your router.


From the original questioner:
The initial scoring cut barely hits the ply. It actually does not make a cut through the first plywood layer. I am using a 12 degree bit. Should I use a larger degree bit to achieve the depth? I cannot adjust the depth of cut on the jig, because the sides of the drawer (pins) will plunge too deep into the drawer fronts (tails).


Try to use a 1/2" shank bit. Maybe cut a little deeper. Also, remember that the first signs of wear on a dovetail bit will be the points--they're inherently the weak spot. A good way to quickly check a carbide bit for wear is to look at the edge from the cutting side--if it's shiny, it's worn.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
If you are having trouble with the last pin blowing out or tearing badly, do what I do and add a small piece of same thickness material to the side of the one you are cutting the tails into. This adds a backing to the final pin, and all but eliminates its blowout.



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?
  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Custom Cabinet Construction

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber and Plywood

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous

  • KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Accessories

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2017 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article