How to Cut 6-by-6 Timbers With a Dovetail Jig


Dovetailing timbers is most commonly used to join floor joists or ceiling beams to a crossbeam. Achieving uniform dovetails, especially on such a grand scale, is difficult without the use of a jig. Two types of jigs exist for dovetailing timbers: a router jig or a saw jig. Using a jig, either for a large industrial router or a saw, makes the task of achieving perfectly fitting dovetails possible.

Things You'll Need

  • 6-by-6 timbers
  • Jig
  • Router
  • Handsaw or chainsaw
  • Chisel
  • Choose a dovetail jig depending on your available tools. If you have a high-powered router, using it to cut dovetails is far easier than using a saw. However, using a saw is still manageable with the right jig.

  • Set up the jig on the timber you wish to cut. Use the saw or router to form the dovetail on the end of the timber.

  • If cutting into a crossbeam, set up the jig at the point you wish to interlock the dovetail end. If you're using the saw, the cut will be more complex and need to be finished or cleaned up with a chisel, since you most likely won't be able to cleanly make the rear cut with the saw.

  • Use a wooden mallet to hammer the beams together and test the fit of the dovetails.

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  • Photo Credit bois image by Jacques PALUT from
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