Routers and Half-Blind Dovetails

Nicely fitting a dovetail joint using a router. March 13, 2009

Is it possible to use a router to form the "mortise side" of a half-blind dovetail wood joint, while still keeping all faces in the joint flat? If so, how is that possible?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor S:
Use a dovetail jig.

From the original questioner:
Sorry, I should have been more clear. I know it is definitely possible to cut the tails for a Half-Blind (or Lapped) Dovetail joint. My question was specifically about the pegs (the front of the drawer with the lap). I assume you could at least start cutting this side with a router, but would have to finish off the joint with a chisel in hand in order to get a flat end to the pegs. Is this correct? Maybe I'm not understanding how a dovetail jig works.

From contributor S:
Most simple dovetail jigs are designed to round the back side of the dovetail to match the pocket cut in the drawer face made by the router bit. If you want to use a router to cut the pockets then chisel the back square you could. It just takes longer to achieve something that the jig is designed to expedite.

From the original questioner:
So the tail tips are rounded to match the radius of the straight router bit that is used to cut the pegs? I knew there was something simple I was missing. Thank you very much for the responses.

From contributor R:
When hand cutting half blind dovetails I have found a laminate trimmer fitted with a 1/4" spiral bit a very efficient way to waste the material between the pins. I typically clamp the drawer face vertically in the vise with a piece of scrap clamped flush with the edge to provide support for the router base. Then I freehand the cut close to the layout lines and clean up with a sharp chisel. It is very quick and efficient and has the added advantage of accurately setting the depth of the cut.