What Are Dovetail Drawers?

If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen cabinets, you’ve most likely encountered a multitude of drawers and cabinets with different detailings and extensions. Most of those kitchen drawers look exactly the same! However, a cabinetry designer would insist that not all drawers are created equal—there’s a difference between standard drawers and dovetail drawers. You may ask, “What are dovetail drawers?” 

In this guide, we’ll go over the ins and outs of what makes a dovetail drawer and how you can find the best choice for your dream kitchen cabinets.

History of Dovetail Drawers

Before we dive into the question, “What are dovetail drawers?” let’s look into the origins. Dovetail drawers get their name from the unique type of joint developed by the Egyptian people thousands of years ago. This joint resembles the triangular shape of a tail because each small angled saw cut looks like an individual feather. Despite the name suggestion of soft feathers, this form of joint makes the drawer extremely strong. This thousand-year-old style of furniture joint would be crafted by a skilled cabinet maker who would use a chisel to ensure both puzzle piece parts of the joints are secure and crafted to a perfect, detailed look. Dovetail joints have been used for centuries in some of the most beautiful and lasting pieces of furniture in history.

Dovetail Drawers vs. Standard Drawers

Standard drawers are usually made with particle board and a rabbet joint—an open-sided channel along the edge of a board panel. The rabbet joint provides a mechanical connection to the drawer with glue and staples, and the joint breaks over time as it wears down. 

The material of dovetail drawers ranges between ash and maple wood. These types of woods provide a sturdiness to the joints of the drawer that wouldn’t break so easily over time. The dovetail joint distinguishes this drawer from a standard one because it creates a secure foundation to the drawer’s edge and grants wider space. The joint is composed of notches that interlock and connect two boards to create a sturdy bond.

Types of Dovetail Drawers

English dovetail drawers are the most common type of drawer with a dovetail joint. They allow for several more inches of wide space at the side of the drawer than a French dovetail drawer. The English dovetail drawers are easily identifiable with the grooved edges at the drawer. The puzzle-piece pins and tails are wedge-shaped, and as the pins interlock with the wedges, the joint is extremely tight and secure.

The French dovetail drawers are characterized by the sliding joints and short height, and oftentimes, they support furniture with a curved front. You can tell the difference between the two by inspecting the back corners; a French dovetail drawer will have unique interlocking joints on both ends of the drawer. A French dovetail drawer includes one wedge and a single groove and cannot hold heavy items like its English counterpart. However, it still offers strong support as a unique joint that functions without a mechanical connection.

Dovetail Drawer Construction

The material of dovetail drawer boxes usually consists of solid wood—ash or maple—which reinforces the drawer’s natural high tensile strength. This type of material makes the dovetail drawer a robust choice. The  drawers are made by hand-cutting each pin and tail for the unique joint or using a dovetail jig and router. After each notch is carefully cut, the craftsman would assemble the pins and tails together. Applying glue can be helpful in providing some extra support for the joint. 

The dovetail drawer is made up of the drawer front, slides, and box. This process of carving the dovetails would require a dovetail jig and a table saw to create each individual notch. The craftsman may even use a small chisel to clean the spaces between the pins and tails. Each groove is carefully sized and measured so each board can fit correctly. 

What Are the Uses of Dovetail Drawers?

The dovetail joints grant the dovetail drawers a large storage capacity since they provide great support for their contents and allow for a bigger surface area with the joint. The craftsman would form notches on two boards to create a distinguished dovetail pattern and allow the joint to hold those heavy items. 

Dovetail drawers also offer a secure foundation for heavy contents because the interlocked nature holds the joints tightly together without the need for nails. Additionally, the adhesive glue functions as extra support to the naturally strong solid wood. 

Are Dovetail Drawers Popular?

Although dovetail drawers date back thousands of years ago, there’s no wonder that this type of drawer continues to be considered as a popular piece today. Because they require no mechanical connection, dovetail drawers are a great option for sturdy storage space and can be used in many quality drawers for your kitchen. Especially since the details of interlocked pieces are varnished with a sophisticated wood stain, dovetail detailing can be a lovely piece that can stand the test of time.

Affordable Dovetail Drawers Online

If you’ve come to the conclusion that dovetail drawers are a great match for your kitchen, or you want to look through more options, you’re in the right place. All drawers made by Buy Wholesale Cabinets are reinforced with dovetail joints. Buy Wholesale Cabinets offers a multitude of kitchen drawers made with quality dovetail joints in our online store. We understand that shaping the home of your dreams can ask a lot from your wallet, and Buy Wholesale Cabinets prides itself on providing incredible wholesale prices to everyone. Call our team to start your home improvement dreams today