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Must Have Router Bits: Dovetail Bit the Best Bet for Machining Joinery
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Dovetail router bit Use a dovetail bit in your router table or along with a dovetail cutting jig for the easiest way to cut dovetail joints.

For machining dovetails, there’s really only one choice, but it’s a perfect one. Dovetail bits make dead-on angled slots in a single pass, and they can be used with a number of jigs and templates. (For template use and for many commercial jigs, you’ll want a dovetail bit with a shank-mounted guide bearing.) These bits excel at making traditional dovetails, of course, but used in a router table with a fence, they’re also your best choice to create sliding dovetails useful for carcass joinery. These sliding dovetail joints are like dadoes on steroids: They have the strength of a regular dado, plus the locking power of a dovetail. Unlike traditional jig-made dovetail joints that are made with a combination of dovetail and straight bits, sliding dovetails use the same bit for both the angled groove and the tongue — a single pass is all you need for the groove; one pass on each side makes the tongue.

Dovetail bits are available in a variety of angles, from 7 to 18 degrees, with 14 degrees being the most commonly used. For sizing your dovetails, you’ll find bits in a range from about 1/4" to 1" in diameter.

All router bits should be kept sharp, but this is especially the case for dovetail bits — a dull bit makes for truly ugly dovetails with lots of “furry” tearout.

posted on December 1, 2010 by AJ Hamler
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One thought on “Must Have Router Bits: Dovetail Bit the Best Bet for Machining Joinery”

  • Richard Reeder

    This is more question than comment. I am making a tool box from 1/2 inch walnut. I want to join the box using half blind. dovetails I have a jig but cannot make the tails fit. Thepins are too big if I retract the cutter to whers they almost fit they ac only 1/8 inch long. What angle bit should I be using My bit is 14 degree bit .

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