Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig

Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig

By Tom Caspar

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You can do more with your half-blind dovetail jig than meets the eye. You’ve probably used it to make drawers with plain, inset fronts, but it’s really quite simple to make lipped drawer fronts, too. Even though most dovetail jigs are basically the same, some of their manuals don’t go into much detail about how to make this variation of the basic drawer (they often call it a rabbeted drawer, which is confusing). Whatever kind of jig you have, here’s a foolproof process for making lipped drawers from beginning to end.

2. Cut rabbets to form lips on the top and ends of the drawer front (usually there’s no lip on the bottom). The precise width of the rabbets affects the fit of the drawer front in its opening. Fine-tune the fence setting so there is 1/16" or less total side play between the inside of the drawer front and the sides of the case.

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3. Check the fit of sample dovetails made with your jig. Use the same species of wood as your drawer parts for test pieces. Wood that’s too soft gives a false reading.

Adjust the router bit up or down until you make two parts that fit together with hand pressure alone.

Adjust the jig’s template in and out until you make two parts that fit flush. The position of the template affects the depth of the sockets.

4. Place both drawer sides in the dovetail jig, inside out and front side up. Use the groove in the drawer bottom as a referen ce guide. It faces toward you and lines up with an outside finger of the dovetail template.

The bottom edge of every drawer part butts up against the stops on the jig.

5. Rout dovetails in the drawer sides. Move the router from left to right for best results. Use backer boards behind the drawer sides to prevent the backs of the tails from chipping out.

9. Dovetail one drawer side and back as a pair, making a standard half-blind joint. As in Photo 4, one pair is placed in the left-hand side of the jig and the other pair in the right-hand side. You won’t get parts mixed up if you remember that the grooves always go nearest the stops of the jig.

Sand all the inside faces of the drawer before gluing.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker December 2000, issue #84.

December 2000, issue #84

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