Making Lipped Drawers with a Dovetail Jig
By Tom Caspar
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You can do more with your half-blind dovetail
jig than meets the eye. You’ve probably used it
to make drawers with plain, inset fronts, but
it’s really quite simple to make lipped drawer fronts, too.
Even though most dovetail jigs are basically the same, some
of their manuals don’t go into much detail about how to
make this variation of the basic drawer (they often call it
a rabbeted drawer, which is confusing). Whatever kind of
jig you have, here’s a foolproof process for making lipped
drawers from beginning to end.
2. Cut rabbets to
form lips on the
top and ends of the
drawer front (usually
there’s no lip on the
bottom). The precise
width of the rabbets
affects the fit of the
drawer front in its
opening. Fine-tune the
fence setting so there
is 1/16" or less total
side play between the
inside of the drawer
front and the sides of
Click any image to view a larger version
3. Check the fit of sample dovetails made with your jig.
Use the same species of wood as your drawer parts for
test pieces. Wood that’s too soft gives a false reading.
Adjust the router bit up or down until you make two
parts that fit together with hand pressure alone.
Adjust the jig’s template in and out until you make two
parts that fit flush. The position of the template affects the
depth of the sockets.
4. Place both drawer sides in the dovetail jig, inside out and
front side up. Use the groove in the drawer bottom as a referen ce
guide. It faces toward you and lines up with an outside finger of the
The bottom edge of every drawer part butts up against the stops on the jig.
5. Rout dovetails
Move the router
from left to right
for best results.
the drawer sides
to prevent the
backs of the
tails from chipping
9. Dovetail one drawer
side and back as a pair, making
a standard half-blind joint.
As in Photo 4, one pair is
placed in the left-hand side
of the jig and the other pair
in the right-hand side. You
won’t get parts mixed up
if you remember that the
grooves always go nearest
the stops of the jig.
Sand all the inside faces of
the drawer before gluing.