Box joints versus dovetail joints - Router Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Default Box joints versus dovetail joints

This study looked at the two and concluded the box joint is stronger than the dovetail joint. the author attributes the advantage of the box joint to modern wood glues.

Here is a link: Dovetail joint vs box joint

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 02:19 AM
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You just gotta love a test that is apples against oranges with the resulting fruit punch. The test is in no way accurate. First off those are 1/2 blind dovetails, not through dovetails. To get any kind of meaningful test result the joints should be close to the same size and number, and both should be through joints or halfway joints. Telling me that a joint half the thickness of the material failed before a joint the full thickness of the material does not surprise me at all. Is this Canuck logic?

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 05:40 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mike View Post
You just gotta love a test that is apples against oranges with the resulting fruit punch. The test is in no way accurate. First off those are 1/2 blind dovetails, not through dovetails. To get any kind of meaningful test result the joints should be close to the same size and number, and both should be through joints or halfway joints. Telling me that a joint half the thickness of the material failed before a joint the full thickness of the material does not surprise me at all. Is this Canuck logic?
I'm not here to defend the test, but I think he was quite clear in his writeup that it was a half blind joint compared to a box joint. I think his real point is that the wood failed before the glue. He would probably argue modern glues are really strong and they negate any advantage the dovetail might have over the simpler joint he prefers.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 06:04 AM
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Don't get me wrong. I think dovetails are nice, they are a decorative joint that I will seldom use. I prefer the box joints, but there are so many choices like drawer lock joints, mitre joints, locking mitre joints, mitred rabbit joints...
There is no question that the new glues are stronger than the wood. That is well documented. I guess if the joint fits... glue it!

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 06:47 AM
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There was this disclaimer in the article:
"Of course, if I had made a box joint which exactly the same contact area as the dovetail joint, the dovetail joint would most likely have been stronger."
So, I think he just wanted to post an article for his own satisfaction.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 06:55 AM
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Goes to show you can make an argument for anything using convoluted logic. The dovetail joint is a mechanical joint, the box joint, not. Here's the test; assemble two drawers, one with box joints and one with dovetails (makes no difference through or half blind). Assemble them dry, no glue. Now close the drawers repeatedly and see which drawer falls apart. Box joint fails every time. The dovetail is superior by design, not by luck or by the use of todays "modern glues".
Dovetail joints are the benchmark, always will be no matter how many fancy or ingenious router bit joints manufacturers dream up. Open a drawer on a finely crafted piece or reproduction and you'll see dovetail joinery. Not box joints. Study the elite craftsmen of any era and the joint used on casework and drawer construction is invariably the dovetail along with the mortise and tenon. Not the box joint.
Lastly, all you need to know about the knowledge and skill level of that author is in his last paragraph: "Fact is, for drawers, I have mostly just used nailed rabbet joints".

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 09:21 AM
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Hi Guys


This just my 2 cents

Through dovetails hands down are the best,,,they are so quick to put in place
You can made a drawer/box in about 5 mins. or so..they are strong and are self locking so to speak..unlike many of the other wood joints..

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 01:02 PM
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Here is a link with 3 articles regarding joint failure. I didn't attach the PDFs here because of there size, but you can get them here:

Joint failure LINK
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 08:05 AM
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It appears the contact (surface) area of the glued finger joint is at least twice larger than the half blind dovetail joint in test. As mentioned above the comparison is between apples and oranges.

Would be interested in the comparison between 3 finger joint vs 5-6 through dovetails .

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 09:51 AM
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"Is this Canuck logic?"

Not my experience Mike, who has ever broken a draw with either box or dovetail joints. Sure the latter is prettier and as Bj said, faster to make but we're talking about strength.

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