How To Make Inlay Dovetails | DIY Project

How To Make Inlay Dovetails
How to Make a Folding Cedar Lawn Chair

Wood crafting is a god gifted talent which is mastered through continuous practice and hard work. The creations of a craftsman represent beauty and creativity of its work. The strength and reliability of the products along with its beauty are also a priority.

Dovetail joints are famous for their resistance from being pulled apart. Dovetail are usually used for joining the side of drawers to the front. These are also used to construct cabinets, furniture, log buildings and timber framing.

These dovetails do not require any kind of mechanical fasteners and that makes them more attractive as they along with their durability and strength they have beautiful look.

This tutorial leads you to learn a simple and easy method for making these beautiful looking inlay dovetails. The tutorial is designed for professional wood crafters who are an amateur in their field or it can be a DIY project for people who have to know-how of working with wood crafting machines and have experience of working with wood. You must have a separate working space where you can work making these dovetails and instruments for this.

Follow this tutorial step by step to learn to create this inlay dovetails patterns without using any jigs or expensive tools.

So once you have assembled all your tools and set space for your work so let’s get started.

Step 1: Cutting The Tails

Firstly you have to take a piece of wood which is 3/8” thick and then mark a 5/8” line on the face of it. Now draw the tails on it. The width of the tail is 5/8” and the distance between the tails is 7/8”

Now cut the tail shape and remove the waste portion. You can either do it by the hand or by band saw but with hand, it would take more time so for speedy process, use band saw. Band saw is used when making accurate curved cuts in wood stock.

Pro Tips

  • Wear safety glasses at all times.
  • Wear gloves to protect hands from splinters while cutting wood but not near rotating blades where gloves can catch.
  • Use a workbench to secure the lumber so that it doesn’t move while cutting.
  • Use a sharp 2H pencil for proper marking on the wood.
  • When marking a line, hold the pencil such that there is no space between the pencil and the measuring device.
  • While working with the band saw wear hearing protection such as ear plugs or ear muffs.
  • Appropriate clothing must be done while working with the band saw. Do not wear long sleeved or loose fitting clothes that could get caught in your work.
  • Regularly check and adjust your blocks and wheels in your band saw so that your blade resides in its proper position.
  • Turn your band saw on once the motor attains its full speed then start any cutting

Step 2: Cutting And Joining The Contrasting Wood

Once you have cut this place it aside and then take contrasting wood. I have taken basswood as contrasting wood. Now measure and mark a ¾” line on this. This would be 1/8” longer than your tails

Now use a scrap piece of wood and place it alongside of your basswood like joining them together now place your tails on that piece of scrap wood, make sure your wood pieces are joined together and there is no space in between the tailpiece and your contrasting board and then trace the tails on the contrasting wood.

Now cut them out with a bandsaw or by hand. If you want to do it with your hand then this is how you must do it.

Firstly make a relief cut with your knife.

Then chisel it down and remove the waste about half way down.

Now flip the board and repeat the procedure on the other side too.

Now apply glue to both pieces of your wood and fit them together. While fitting them together make sure that the fit is a snug fit and there is no gap left in between the pieces

Hammer it a bit so that it fits tightly and remove any glue which has come out of sides so it looks neat.

Now let this dry completely. Once it is dried now cut the contrasting board along the marked line on the board.

Now on every side of the tail measure 1/8” .connect you lines and remove the waste.

Here again, you have a choice of removing it by hand or band saw. I have cut it with a band saw now for removing waste you can chisel it out but as basswood is really soft so chiseling out the waste would not be a preferable choice as it may cause damage to the contrasting wood piece .so instead I am using a coping saw with a spiral cut blade and after that with a razor sharp chisel clean up the insides.

Pro Tips

  • To begin hammering, grip the hammer firmly in the middle of the handle - shake hands with your hammer!
  • Don’t hold the hammer too tightly
  • While using bass wood do not cut through the piece in one cut.
  • Use sharper blades
  • Use of twist drill are not preferable while working with bass wood as they can cause breakout
  • Using basswood having a moisture content of 8 percent is good for stability in use.
  • For intricate cuts, spiral blades are better to use.
  • Coping saw is designed for the cutting of thin materials or for trim work. It must not be used on any material more than an inch thickness
  • Replace the blade if it has gone dull because it can cause more injury than a sharp blade can do.
  • The teeth of the coping saw are very sharp so avoid touching them.
  • Keep your hands and fingers away while holding the objects you are cutting with your coping saw.
  • Make sure to not use coping saw which has a loose blade.
  • After using each time oil the coping saw.When using a table saw to cut the wood, keep the blade a little high for a cleaner cut.
  • Use small teeth blade to achieve a much smoother edge.
  • If you are still unable to cut the wood in the perfect size, just cut it a little bit oversize, and then trim to the right dimensions.

Step 3: Making The Pin Board

Now the board with the tails is ready now we must focus on the board that will have the pins on it.

Now mark ¾” on the face grain and 5/8” on the end grain. Here I am creating a 1/8” deeper rabbet. The rabbet will help to conceal the inlay on the inside of the final piece.

A rabbet is simply a rectangular recess along the edge or end of a workpiece. A rabbet is also known as a rebate in Britain and it is a recess or groove cut into the edge of a piece of machineable material, usually wood. If it is viewed in cross-section, a rabbet is two-sided and is open to the edge or to the end of the surface into which it is cut.

Create a trench with your knife along the line on face grain then level it out completely to create a rabbet with is levelled completely.

Now while tracing for the tails on it make sure the rabbet is facing away from you now after that carefully place the tails on it and trace it

Now shade in the waste area that’s going to be removed. Now cut the waste area you can do it by jig or band saw but I am doing it with hand.

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After that chisel out the waste with all the waste chiseled out now add the glue and place the pieces together like this

Pro Tips

  • Chisels are used for making notches and grooves. In shelf assembly. They are most often used in cutting joints. Sold individually or in sets, chisels commonly come in ¼”. ½”, ¾”, and 1″ sizes.
  • Choose the right size chisel for the job.Use chisels which have smooth, rectangular handles that have no sharp edges and are firmly attached
  • The cutting edge of the chisel must be sharp chisels which are dull are difficult to control and more effort is required doing the job.
  • Before you start chiseling your stock check it thoroughly for any staples, nails, screws or knots or any other foreign object.
  • Stock must be clamped so that it does not move while chiseling.
  • When cutting or chipping do it with a blade pointing away from you.
  • Make the finishing cuts or paring cuts with your hand pressure only.
  • Sharpen the cutting edges as often as needed.
  • Do not use the chisel as a wedge or pry.Wood chisel must not be used on metal.

Step 4: Staining And Finishing

Now apply boiled linseed oil and turpentine to bring out the natural beauty and give a finished look. Stain can also be applied.

Pro Tips

  • Clean and dry the surface before applying. Mix both linseed oil and turpentine in 50 to 50 ratio.
  • Apply in very thin coats and rub it well into the wood
  • Preferably apply two or more coats. Allow the coat to dry first then apply another coat.For protection against water and chemicals, use clear finishes.
  • Use a dust mask or respirator to protect your eyes and skin while staining and finishing the table
  • Always test stain on a piece of scrap wood before starting on the furniture.
  • So that the stain doesn’t leave blotches on the wood, always apply a thin coat of wood conditioner first, using an inexpensive brush. Let the conditioner to dry for about 15 minutes before applying the stain and don’t sand it as there’s no need.
  • Apply stain with a brush or a rag, depending on preference. Now with a staining brush, work along the grain and against it. No need to worry about being neat what matters most is getting a nice and even coat
  • If the stain needs to be darker, go back over and apply more stain.
  • The stain only provides color; you will still have to use the finish for better protection.
  • Stir the stain can properly before opening it
  • For a darker tone, apply two or more stain coats.
  • Use a good quality polyurethane finish material for long lasting protection.


Here is the link to the You tube video which helped us to write this easy and step by step tutorial to make dovetail patterns

This video is uploaded by Chad Stanton who is a self-employed licensed contractor, professional furniture maker and the member of the Professional Remodeling Organization and Society of American Period Furniture Makers. He is also Spokesperson for the Titebond and is the contributing editor for American Woodworking Magazine.

These video tutorial are named wood chopping time

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Helpful tips

As mentioned above this tutorial is for people who have idea about wood crafting and can use the instruments efficiently.

Do not try to make this if you have no experience in working with wood working instruments and injure yourself with sharp lades or instruments.

· If you have no previous woodworking experience, start with smaller projects like drilling in woods, attaching two wood pieces together, etc.

· Learn as much as you can about the woodworking craft before you start this project.

· Use only good quality tools and materials.

· Be very much careful when using the wood cutter, drilling machine, and other such tools.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it has been helpful to you. Let us know about your reviews in the comments below. Also share this easy and cheaper dove tail patterns tutorial with friends on social sites and in blogs by clicking the share button below. Also you can view more of our wood crafting tutorials that can also be helpful for you.

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  • May 3, 2017
  • DIY