A dovetail joint uses interlocking wedge-shaped elements called tails and pins to connect two pieces of wood, according to MaterialsTechnologyWood.com. These elements resist forces applied to the joint. Also, a well-made dovetail joint has a decorative quality. Most commonly used in making drawers, it is rare for such items to break even under frequent stressful situations.
Dovetail joints are the strongest of all wood joints, working best when in tension and resisting being pulled apart. Dovetail joints offer a large gluing area, but because of the interlocking element in the joining process, they hold together even without glue. Also, dovetail joints are attractive and are used to enhance the ornamental quality of a wood project.
Expanding and Contracting
For larger wood projects in which contraction and expansion of the wood is a concern, dovetail joints allow for these conditions. Even under these conditions, structural integrity is not compromised when properly constructed, according to WoodworkDetails.com. Woodworkers can create projects with no visible hardware when using dovetail joints. The dovetail joint is ideal for high-stress areas such as attaching fronts to drawers. Even under normal usage, the front of the drawer undergoes extreme stresses from being pulled open or slammed shut. Separation of the front from the drawer is a virtual impossibility with a dovetail interlocking joint.
The advantageous strength of dovetail joints comes from the interlocking pins and tails element. Tails, with triangular spaces between them, are made in one board with pin slides on the other board. Pins slide into the matching spaces between the tails on the other board, creating the interlocking mechanism. When the dovetail joint is properly assembled, it creates an interlock that can't be broken regardless of whether it is glued together. Dovetail joints appeal to woodworkers mainly because of the strength they provide.