Bare Faced Dovetail: Critique Requested

WoodworksbyJohn-BarefacedDovetail-Exp-9In my last blog I talked about the joinery considerations for the TV stand project.  After lots of research and some inquiries on the Woodweb forums I’ve decided that the joint you see pictured here is the way to go but I would be interested in hearing thoughts from other woodworkers.  This is my sample joint and the real one will be about 7″ down from the top of the board.  In Ernest Joyce’s Furniture book a sliding dovetail like this is referred to as a barefaced dovetail (pg.178).  With the size and weight of these pieces a tapered, sliding dovetail seemed to be tricky at best.  Also, the case will need to be assembled and disassembled many times to check how the sliding doors fit and the drawer web construction.  With only the bottom of the joint having the dovetail angle, that will establish the shelf location.  The top, being flat can be fine tuned with a rabbet block plane to fine tune the fit.

Here’s how I went about cutting this joint:

At this point I now have the female side of the joint cut into the cabinet side.  Next up is cutting the corresponding joint on the shelf.  It begins with leaving the depth set as it was and cutting half the dovetail on the end of the shelf.  Then, the 3/8″ rabbet bit is used on the opposite side:

Now it became a matter of fine tuning the joint to where it will slide together without too much problem — router plane and rabbet block plane are used to achieve that:

The joint slid together fairly easily so my thoughts are that even when it’s twice this long, my success should be the same!  To fit the bottom and top members of the cabinet I’ll be able to flip the shelf over to the rabbeted side and clamp the sides temporarily as I fit the top and bottom case members.  These will be hand dovetailed in the usual manner.  I won’t need to fully insert the shelf until the final assembly.  My plan is to use liquid hide glue on the final 2″ or so which will secure the shelf in front (and keep it flush) but still allow it to move in the socket with temperature changes.

So, how does this sound to you fellow woodworkers who’ve taken the time to read through all of this?  I really would appreciate any thoughts you may have because you know once the glue is on it darn well better work!



About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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