Dovetails usually are very strong, even without the use of glue. Many old-fashioned tables and chairs (furniture) use dovetails because it's cheaper than a lot of glue, unless a lot of weight is put on it (and glue tends to break down over time). Wood also expands if there's moisture in the air, so the dovetail joint can (theoretically) tighten.

Dove"tail` (?), n. Carp.

A flaring tenon, or tongue (shaped like a bird's tail spread), and a mortise, or socket, into which it fits tightly, making an interlocking joint between two pieces which resists pulling a part in all directions except one.

Dovetail molding Arch., a molding of any convex section arranged in a sort of zigzag, like a series of dovetails. -- Dovetail saw Carp., a saw used in dovetailing.


© Webster 1913.

Dove"tail`, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Dovetailed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Dovetailing.]

1. Carp. (a)

To cut to a dovetail

. (b)

To join by means of dovetails.


To fit in or connect strongly, skillfully, or nicely; to fit ingeniously or complexly.

He put together a piece of joinery so crossly indented and whimsically dovetailed . . . that it was indeed a very curious show. Burke.


© Webster 1913.

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