Value of sliding dovetail construction - The final steps

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Note that the operator can move the router either direction since the new style guide rails holds the router on line no matter which way it moves. You don’t need your most experienced people to do this operation. Even the modestly trained can do it perfectly time after time. If you don’t want the dovetails to show from the front side, just have the operator cut from the back side towards the center, but stop short of the front edge on both sides. That’s the beauty of being able to cut in either direction with equal ease and result.

Continue making all the female dovetail grooves for all the dust panels. They will all correctly align since they are all cut in both pieces at the same time. No more referencing dados or dovetail grooves from the top on one side and from the bottom on the other side as you have to do if using something like a traditional router table or shaper or table saw (for dados) to make these critical cuts.

With all the female dovetail grooves cut in both sides of the cabinet, those components can go to the finish room to be fully finished in the flat.

The final steps
The dust panels require a male dovetail on each end that will slide in the female grooves cut on the inner face of each cabinet side. Once the dust panels are fabricated, the matching male dovetails can be cut most easily using a horizontal router where the dust panels can lay flat on the horizontal router table and be moved safely past the dovetail router bit held in a horizontal position. They also can be cut with a saddle fixture attached to the router or with a feather board jig to hold the dust panel upright on a conventional router table.

Once the matching male dovetails are cut on each end of the dust panels, they can go to the finish room in the flat as well. After both the cabinet sides and the dust panels are fully finished, even your least-experienced workers can do the assembly as the sliding dovetail joints will self-align, self-square and self-lock. With a bit of imagination, you will see how you can quickly solve complicated wide-grain to long-grain solid wood movement issues as well.

With even a modest investment in a modern guided rail routing system and special work tables to hold the components in place while the rotating cutter is moved past the stationary work pieces, your workers can turn out high-quality interlocking sliding dovetail pieces with a very low error or rejection rate. Story sticks can be employed to eliminate measurement errors in aligning the guide rails to the intended groove center lines. Your workers can turn out more pieces per hour, with greater satisfaction and little chance for error.

You’ll enjoy the value-added benefits of unusual dovetail construction that your customers will recognize, appreciate and value. And you will also enjoy the cost-reduction benefits from finishing all your major components in the flat before they are ever assembled, even for the first time.