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Author Topic: Dovetails Worth the Effort?  (Read 2114 times)
charlescfry
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« on: July 31, 2008, 10:00:49 PM »

Does anyone have experience about the durability of dovetail joints over box (or finger) joints? I don't mind setting up the jig to cut dovetails, but if there is not additional benefit, I will use simpler joints.

I typically glue and nail my supers as well... just looking for more experienced opinions. Thanks.
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Charles Fry
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Fry Farms, Ohio, USA
Bill W.
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2008, 12:01:58 AM »

FWIW, I have a number of old boxes built out of plywood that have no joints at all - they are just glued and screwed at the flat edges.  I live in a wet climate and they seem just as durable as the other boxes.
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deantn
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2008, 04:42:21 AM »

Does anyone have experience about the durability of dovetail joints over box (or finger) joints? I don't mind setting up the jig to cut dovetails, but if there is not additional benefit, I will use simpler joints.

I typically glue and nail my supers as well... just looking for more experienced opinions. Thanks.


Maybe it is just my preference but if you take the time to build your own supers and brood boxes make them to show your woodworking skills.
My boxes are all made with true dovetails and while they hold up just as well as box joints do it is matter of pride to me.
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charlescfry
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2008, 02:08:34 PM »

I understand the desire to make the supers look nice, and through dovetails are not that hard to cut. on the other hand, i never seem to run out of other projects needing attenion and shop time, so it is a matter of balancing aesthetics with functionality with time.

The comment about plywood boxes is interesting... i have been thinking about using 3/4" ply as opposed to dimension lumber...
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Charles Fry
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2008, 08:46:43 PM »

 It's a matter of making yourself happy, both will hold up. Most people who see my hives couldn't tell if it was a rabbit joint or a dovetail. Usually, "oh no, bees! Oh, do you have any honey?"
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ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2008, 10:22:35 PM »

I just dadoo my joints.  In regard to plywood:  I used a high grade plywood 3/4" that I got free (cost would be ~$40).  The first thing you will notice is how much heavier a plywood box is compared to dimensional lumber.  I like it because it feels so much sturdier.  I screw everything (the boxes that is evil) together--nails are evil.  My boxes have no flex with those L joints.  With 2-3 coats of paint I do not foresee any problems.  My plywood is 7 plys thick.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2008, 12:01:59 AM »

In regard to plywood:  I used a high grade plywood 3/4" that I got free (cost would be ~$40). 

... and at a cost of free, even if it doesn't last as long, it's still worth it.  Smiley
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charlescfry
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2008, 07:45:18 AM »

plywood makes sense to me... i just dont know if there is any reason the bees would not like it.
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Charles Fry
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2008, 01:23:01 PM »

I've made many boxes with butt joints glued and screwed that have outlasted many rabbet and box joints that were not.
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Michael Bush
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hankdog1
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2008, 12:09:18 AM »

Just a thought but dovetails are suppost to be the stongest of the joints.  They also serve a perpose too the angles shed water instead of allowing it to collect in the joints which is the reason dove tail joints are popular in log cabins.   Honestly though if you glue screw and paint any of the other joints you shouldn't see any difference between the two other then thier not as pretty.  You may want to look at bisket joints thier quick and strong as the glue expands the biskets for a tight fit.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2008, 12:14:54 AM »

plywood makes sense to me... i just dont know if there is any reason the bees would not like it.

The bees probably don't care, it's the fact that plywood has a reputation for warping that causes people to shy away from it.  Personally, I think all wood warps when stored improperly, so there's no point in picking one over the other based on that factor.  Actually, even when stored properly, wood will eventually warp... storing it properly just delays the inevitable. 
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HomeBru
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2008, 06:55:29 PM »

Dovetails show their strength in situations like drawers where you're pulling on one side of the "box". As far as torsional strength, they're pretty close to box joints. The key is having a nice snug fit and good glue application. (a good box joint is stronger than a poorly executed dovetail joint)

butt joints and screws are pretty strong, not as strong as box or dovetail joints but are very likely "strong enough" for hive bodies.

There are also some really snug interlocking joints you can make with a tablesaw or custom router bits.

This is from a woodworker's perspective as I haven't yet built my own supers...

J-
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2008, 10:14:29 PM »

Unfortunately for beekeeping, beekeeping supply places call a "box joint" a "dovetail joint" which, of course, it is not.  The confusion, however, will continue, I'm sure.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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