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Sliding Dovetail Bench Silsbee TX

You can build this bench in a weekend or two. And once you’re set up to build one, multiples are no sweat. So don’t worry if you can’t decide whether this bench would look best in your front hall or at the foot of your bed—build two! If you build your bench from white oak, as I did, you’ll even be able to use it outdoors. I spent about $100 on lumber and another $25 for a dovetail router bit.

The Home Depot
(409)892-4131
3910 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

M & D Partners LLC
(409) 751-3600
122 S Main St, Across from Lumberton Middle School
Lumberton, TX
 
Ritter@Home
(409) 994-3587
379 Hwy 62
Buna, TX
 
Ritter at Home
(409) 842-5410
7420 Hwy 105
Beaumont, TX
 
M & D Ace Hardware
(409) 769-0281
1230 N Main St
Vidor, TX
 
Parker's Do it center-Silsbee
(409) 385-3729
1145 Hwy 96 South
Silsbee, TX
 
Keeler True Value
(409) 994-3501
269 Tx State Highway 62
Buna, TX
 
LOWE'S OF BEAUMONT, TEX.
409 898-2200
4120 DOWLEN NO. BEAUMONT, TX, 77708
Beaumont, TX
 
Lowe's
(409) 898-2200
4120 Dowlen Road
Beaumont, TX
Hours
M-SA 7 am - 9 pm
SU 8 am - 7 pm

Parkdale Mall
(409) 898-9100
6461 Eastex Fwy
Beaumont, TX
Store Hours
Sears Stores
Store Type
Sears Stores
Hours
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:10-21
Sun:11-18
Store Features
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:10-21
Sun:11-18

Sliding Dovetail Bench

Sliding Dovetail Bench

Super-strong router joints give it elegant simplicity.

by Tim Johnson

This elegant bench has humble origins: Its forebears have been sat upon, stepped on and dragged about for centuries. Utilitarian ancestry is readily apparent in our bench. It features simple construction and strong interlocking joints. 

The pieces fit together like a puzzle, with sliding dovetails and half-lap joints. Sliding dovetails may sound difficult, but I’ll show you how to master this tricky joint with a simple jig, a router and a router table. 

The bench is sized so you can mill all the pieces with your 12-in. planer. I’ll show you how to cut perfectly fitting half-lap joints and how to make the tapered keys that fill the dovetail sockets.

You can build this bench in a weekend or two. And once you’re set up to build one, multiples are no sweat. So don’t worry if you can’t decide whether this bench would look best in your front hall or at the foot of your bed—build two! If you build your bench from white oak, as I did, you’ll even be able to use it outdoors. I spent about $100 on lumber and another $25 for a dovetail router bit (see Sources, below).

Prepare the Pieces

1. Glue up boards, if necessary, to make stock for the wide top (A, Fig. A, below) and legs (B). Plane this stock to final thickness, along with a piece for the rail (C). Mill extra stock for test cuts and the keys (D) to the same 1-1/8-in. thickness. Your stock must be dead flat when you rout, and also when you assemble the pieces, for the dovetail joints to fit well and slide smoothly. 

2. Rip the top, legs and rail to width; then crosscut the ends to length. Make sure the cuts are square.

Rout the Sliding Dovetails

3. Build the socket-routing jig (Fig. B, below). Use your top (A) to establish the width between the jig’s rails. To make sure the fences are spaced properly during assembly, fit a piece of scrap ripped to the proper width between them. 

4. Establish the dovetail sockets in the jig’s rails by setting the dovetail bit to 3/8 in. exposure and routing a test socket in extra stock. Mark the centers of the sockets in the rails.

5. Mark the socket locations on the edge of the top. Then position the jig by aligning the socket centerlines. Clamp the jig and the top securely to your workbench. Make sure the jig’s rails are flush with the top. If they protrude, the router base will catch on them and cause trouble.

6. Rout the sockets (Fig. A, Detail 1) in a clockwise loop, bearing against the left fence on the way out and the right fence on the way back (Photo 1). A dovetail bit with a 1/2-in. shank produces smooth, chatter-free results. If your dovetail bit has a 1/4-in. shank, rout clearance channels first, with a 1/4-in. straight bit.

7. Rout dovetails in the leg blanks on your router table, with a tall fence installed for support (Photo 2).

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