A dovetail joint or simply dovetail is a joinery technique most commonly used in woodworking joinery (carpentry), including furniture, cabinets,  log buildings, and traditional timber framing. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart, also known as tensile strength, the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. A series of pins cut to extend from the end of one board interlock with a series of 'tails' cut into the end of another board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners.
The dovetail joint technique probably pre-dates written history. Some of the earliest known examples of the dovetail joint are in ancient Egyptian furniture entombed with mummies dating from First Dynasty, the tombs of Chinese emperors, and a stone pillar at the Vazhappally Maha Siva Temple in India. The dovetail design is an important method of distinguishing various periods of furniture.[ citation needed ]
The etymology of the name comes from the resemblance between the tenon or mortise of the joint to the shape of a dove's tail .  In Europe, the dovetail joint is sometimes called a swallowtail joint, a culvertail joint ( culver also means 'dove'), or a fantail joint. 
The dovetail joint is very strong because of the way the 'tails' and 'pins' are shaped. This makes it difficult to pull the joint apart and virtually impossible when glue is added. This type of joint is used in box constructions such as drawers, jewellery boxes, cabinets and other pieces of furniture where strength is required. It is a difficult joint to make manually, requiring skilled workmanship. There are different types of dovetail joints.
The angle of slope varies according to the wood used, purpose of joint and type of work. Typically the slope is 1:6 for softwoods, and a shallower 1:8 slope for hardwoods. Often a slope of 1:7 is used as a compromise. However, a different slope does not affect the strength of the joint in different types of wood. 
The image at the top of this page shows a 'through dovetail' (also known as 'plain dovetail') joint, where the end grain of both boards is visible when the joint is assembled.  Through dovetails are common in carcass and box construction. Traditionally, the dovetails would have often been covered by a veneer. However, dovetails have become a signature of craftsmanship and are generally considered a feature, so they are rarely concealed in contemporary work. When used in drawer construction, a through (or blind, mitred, or lapped) dovetail joint is sometimes referred to as an "English dovetail." 
Craftsmen use a 'half-blind dovetail' when they do not want the end grain visible from the front of the joint. The tails fit into mortises in the ends of the board that is the front of the item, hiding their ends.
Half-blind dovetails are commonly used to fasten drawer fronts to drawer sides. This is an alternative to the practice of attaching false fronts to drawers constructed using through dovetails.
The 'secret mitred dovetail' joint (also called a 'mitred blind dovetail', 'full-blind dovetail', or 'full-blind mitred dovetail') is used in the highest class of cabinet and box work. It offers the strength found in the dovetail joint but is totally hidden from both outside faces by forming the outer edge to meet at a 45-degree angle while hiding the dovetails internally within the joint.
The mitred corner dovetail joint is very similar in design, but it has just a single dovetail and is used for picture frames and other similar joins. 
The secret double-lapped dovetail is similar to the secret mitred dovetail, but presents a very thin section of end grain on one edge of the joint. Used for carcass and box construction to hide the dovetails completely from view.
The sliding dovetail is a method of joining two boards at right angles, where the intersection occurs within the field of one of the boards, that is not at the end. This joint provides the interlocking strength of a dovetail. Sliding dovetails are assembled by sliding the tail into the socket. It is common to slightly taper the socket, making it slightly tighter towards the rear of the joint, so that the two components can be slid together easily but the joint becomes tighter as the finished position is reached. Another method to implement a tapered sliding dovetail is to taper the tail instead of the socket. When used in drawer construction, a "stopped sliding dovetail" that does not extend across the full width of the board is sometimes referred to as a "French dovetail". 
Dovetails are most commonly, but not exclusively, used in woodworking. Other areas of use are:
Joinery is a part of woodworking that involves joining pieces of wood, engineered lumber, or synthetic substitutes, to produce more complex items. Some woodworking joints employ mechanical fasteners, bindings, or adhesives, while others use only wood elements.
Tongue and groove is a method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood, in flooring, parquetry, panelling, and similar constructions. Tongue and groove joints allow two flat pieces to be joined strongly together to make a single flat surface. Before plywood became common, tongue and groove boards were also used for sheathing buildings and to construct concrete formwork.
A mortiseand tenon joint connects two pieces of wood or other material. Woodworkers around the world have used it for thousands of years to join pieces of wood, mainly when the adjoining pieces connect at right angles.
A lap joint or overlap joint is a joint in which the members overlap. Lap joints can be used to join wood, plastic, or metal. A lap joint can be used in woodworking for joining wood together.
A filing cabinet is a piece of office furniture for storing paper documents in file folders. In the most simple context, it is an enclosure for drawers in which items are stored. The two most common forms of filing cabinets are vertical files and lateral files. A vertical file cabinet has drawers that extend from the short side of the cabinet. A lateral file cabinet has drawers that extend from the long side of the cabinet. These are also called side filers in Great Britain. There are also shelf files which go on shelves. In the United States, file cabinets are usually built to accommodate 8.5 × 11 paper, and in other countries, filing cabinets are often designed to hold other sizes of paper, such as A4 paper.
A backsaw is any hand saw which has a stiffening rib on the edge opposite the cutting edge, enabling better control and more precise cutting than with other types of saws. Backsaws are normally used in woodworking for precise work, such as cutting dovetails, mitres, or tenons in cabinetry and joinery. Because of the stiffening rib, backsaws are limited in the depth to which they can cut. Backsaws usually have relatively closely spaced teeth, often with little or no set.
A chest of drawers, also called a dresser or a bureau, is a type of cabinet that has multiple parallel, horizontal drawers generally stacked one above another.
Frame and panel construction, also called rail and stile, is a woodworking technique often used in the making of doors, wainscoting, and other decorative features for cabinets, furniture, and homes. The basic idea is to capture a 'floating' panel within a sturdy frame, as opposed to techniques used in making a slab solid wood cabinet door or drawer front, the door is constructed of several solid wood pieces running in a vertical or horizontal direction with exposed endgrains. Usually, the panel is not glued to the frame but is left to 'float' within it so that seasonal movement of the wood comprising the panel does not distort the frame.
Kitchen cabinets are the built-in furniture installed in many kitchens for storage of food, cooking equipment, and often silverware and dishes for table service. Appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens are often integrated into kitchen cabinetry. There are many options for cabinets available at present.
A box joint is a woodworking joint made by cutting a set of complementary, interlocking profiles in two pieces of wood, which are then joined (usually) at right angles, usually glued. The glued box joint has a high glued surface area resulting in a strong bond, on a similar principle to a finger joint. Box joints are used for corners of boxes or box-like constructions, hence the name. The joint does not have the same interlocking properties as a dovetail joint, but is much simpler to make, and can be mass-produced fairly easily.
A mitre box or miter box is a wood working appliance used to guide a hand saw for making precise cuts, usually 45° mitre cuts. Traditional mitre boxes are simple in construction and made of wood, while adjustable mitre boxes are made of metal and can be adjusted for cutting any angle from 45° to 90°.
A butt joint is a technique in which two pieces of material are joined by simply placing their ends together without any special shaping. The name "butt joint" comes from the way the material is joined. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make since it merely involves cutting the material to the appropriate length and butting them together. It is also the weakest because unless some form of reinforcement is used, it relies upon glue or welding alone to hold it together. Because the orientation of the material usually presents only one end to a long gluing or welding surface, the resulting joint is inherently weak.
A splice joint is a method of joining two members end to end in woodworking. The splice joint is used when the material being joined is not available in the length required. It is an alternative to other joints such as the butt joint and the scarf joint. Splice joints are stronger than unenforced butt joints and have the potential to be stronger than a scarf joint.
A butterfly joint, also called a bow tie, dovetail key, Dutchman joint, or Nakashima joint, is a type of joint or inlay used to hold two or more pieces of woods together. These types of joints are mainly used for aesthetics, but they can also be used to reinforce cracks in pieces of wood, doors, picture frames, or drawers.
A drawerDROR is a box-shaped container inside a piece of furniture that can be pulled out horizontally to access its contents. Drawers are built into numerous types of furniture, including cabinets, chests of drawers (bureaus), desks, and the like.
Coping or scribing is the woodworking technique of shaping the end of a moulding or frame component to neatly fit the contours of an abutting member. Joining tubular members in metalworking is also referred to as a cope, or sometimes a "fish mouth joint" or saddle joint.
In cabinet making, a web frame is the term for the internal structural frame of a cabinet which provides the support for drawers. The web frame forms a divider between drawers and provides a mounting point for the drawer runners. In some cabinets, a thin sheet of plywood is inserted into a groove in the web frame to serve as a dust cover between drawers.
This glossary of woodworking lists a number of specialized terms and concepts used in woodworking, carpentry, and related disciplines.
A cabinet is a case or cupboard with shelves and/or drawers for storing or displaying items. Some cabinets are stand alone while others are built in to a wall or are attached to it like a medicine cabinet. Cabinets are typically made of wood, coated steel, or synthetic materials. Commercial grade cabinets usually have a melamine-particleboard substrate and are covered in a high pressure decorative laminate, commonly referred to as Wilsonart or Formica.
What later came to be known as the William and Mary style is a furniture design common from 1700 to 1725 in the Netherlands, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of Scotland, Kingdom of Ireland and later, in England's American colonies. It was a transitional style between Mannerist furniture and Queen Anne furniture. Sturdy, emphasizing both straight lines and curves, and featuring elaborate carving and woodturning, the style was one of the first to imitate Asian design elements such as japanning.