Stopped Grooves for Dovetailed Corners

Article - April 12, 2010

This article was inspired by Tim. He writes:

I’m building a toy box for my children with the sides made from walnut, the front and back from red oak, and the lid is a combination of the two woods. I really like the look of through dovetail joints down the entirety of the four corners of the box as it gives you a taste of each wood from every angle, but my problem comes in when I try to plan out the actual floor of the box. I would like to dado in the floor as I am going for a look that has no screws or hardware visible. It seems to me that if I dado all the way to the edges in order for the base to fit in undetected that I will then screw up my dovetail joints.

This is a common problem that develops in not only toy boxes, but boxes of all kinds like blanket chests, jewelry boxes and even drawers. If you run a groove all the way to the end of the board, it will be visible through the end grain of the dovetail. What an eyesore! I have a solution for you that will be a little more work, but the results are well worth it.

What you need to do is create what is known as a stopped groove. This is fairly easy to do with a router, a straight bit, and an edge guide. You can run the groove pretty close to the end of the board, but just don’t go all the way through. That way, you’ll see solid dovetails from the outside, but you’ll have a nice interior groove on the inside of the box.

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