One Bit Dovetails

I’ve been working in my home shop on upgrading our kitchen a little bit. Specifically making some dovetail roll out trays.

I wanted to do this on the CNC. I fooled around with JointCAM which is actually really good.

I decided for this project I just wanted a really simple way to do dovetails. I’m not really concerned about them looking “traditional” I just wanted some pine boards locked together in a really strong way.

This is the design I came up with:

It occurred to me that if I rounded the pins and the tails I could cut both sides of a dovetail with the same bit. That means no bit changes! My other goal was to make it so that I only had to zero one time and run as many boards as I want.

Here’s a video of how I solved this in Fusion 360:

And here’s a video of the dovetails being cut:

(speaker warning)

As you can see I can do both sides in one shot which is what I was looking for. The other thing I wanted to solve for was easily being able to rough cut the boards to length. The way these dovetails are designed is that you cut them to full length… As in if you wanted a 24 inch by 20 inch drawer box you’d cut two boards at 24" and two at 20". The dovetails are cut “inside” of that dimension if that makes sense… This way at the chopsaw you don’t have to do complex math.

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Very nice!

Is swapping out and registering the boards straightforward? Did you have to dial in any offsets to get the fit right?

You know, despite tradition, actual doves’ tails have a rounded shape.

Swapping out the boards is easy. I tacked a fence on the vertical and horizontals so it’s just a matter of clamping in a new board.

For clearance there’s just a little bit and it’s set into the fusion model.

Here’s the model:

If you go into Modify>Change Parameters you can adjust things in there.

I like this idea a lot. I will see if I can implement it in Aspire.

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@Eric So clever! I love that you got these to mate perfectly with no tool swaps and no re-positioning of workpieces. And the non-traditional look of the dovetail is only a plus for your design in my opinion. Thanks for the share here!

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing the file. Going to try this out!

Please let me know how it goes. Of course with Fusion I had to do a few little light hacks to get the toolpath to work well, if you dig in you’ll see that the “pins” are actually cutting along a sketch which is associated to the solid model. It works fine but my guess is that if you do some extreme changes you’ll have to fix up the sketch.

Another pro tip: You can post both setups for the pin and tails if you select them both so that they get combined into one G Code file. That’s how I cut them.

Update! I made a few rollout trays for our kitchen using these dovetails. I’m famous on social media now because of it:

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