Two solid cedar raised beds. Double dovetail joinery.

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Project by exelectrician posted 05-13-2014 07:14 PM 9607 views 12 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Constant renewal is the theme in our garden.
This time though I decided that these raised beds were going to last a very long time. Four by eight cedar beams from a local yard in Bremmerton were cut using double dovetail construction thereby eliminating the need for corner posts. All beams received a oil based undercoat with a latex house paint top coat before assembly.
After assembly and caulking I dressed up the inside and outside with another coat of latex house paint.
Done and Done!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

15 comments so far

View Belg1960's profile


1150 posts in 4224 days

#1 posted 05-13-2014 08:17 PM

Very impressive joints, these should last a good long time. I wonder though no worries about the latex paint on the inside??

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View Brit's profile


8334 posts in 4001 days

#2 posted 05-13-2014 08:25 PM

Very nicely done. I love those joints.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View dpmeyer4867's profile


25 posts in 3289 days

#3 posted 05-13-2014 09:37 PM

Can you talk about your irrigation tubing?

View J Azuma's profile

J Azuma

30 posts in 2640 days

#4 posted 05-13-2014 10:32 PM

Very nice. I love the application of dovetails.

-- J Azuma

View shipwright's profile


8734 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 05-13-2014 11:10 PM

Well done!
That’s the joint we used to use on deck hatch coamings ( about three feet high) on commercial fishing boats.
A rod bolt down the corner will tighten everything at once, a great joint.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1499 posts in 2792 days

#6 posted 05-14-2014 12:34 AM

Wow, that’s cool. Nice joints, make it look nice and add some natural holding power.
Although I might have put the pins on the long side, and the tails on the shorts.. because I think the long side has more pressure on it.

But nice build.

-- Jeff NJ

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3586 days

#7 posted 05-14-2014 12:35 AM

dpmeyer4867, just standard rain-bird drip irrigation. The tomato supports are sch 20 3/4” plastic drilled with 1/2” holes and 7/16” dowels put through.
The beams are held together with 3 1/2” decking screws in pocket holes drilled on the inside at 18” centers.
Thanks for the interest and kind comments.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3027 days

#8 posted 05-14-2014 12:38 AM

Impressive joinery. Great execution.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View swirt's profile


6340 posts in 4130 days

#9 posted 05-14-2014 02:18 AM

woodchuckerNJ Your intuition is generally right. However in this case, there are no pins. Double-dovetails literally means there are tails on both the short and the long boards. It is a slick joint that due to the stacking nature of the beams, they don’t need to slide together like traditional tails and pins.

-- Galootish log blog,

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3586 days

#10 posted 05-14-2014 05:11 AM

swirt, Thanks for the explanation so clearly put.You are right, the build starts with the bottom ends, and then the two sides, then the two center ends etc., etc,. The screws apply pressure holding the layers together that way the joints can’t come apart.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3027 days

#11 posted 05-14-2014 11:48 AM

^^^ that’s what I found so cool about this build. A quick check of exelectrician’s projects reveals another build with double dovetails, but on a smaller scale. The bat box. Also excellent execution there.

Shipwright makes a great point about how he used them in shipbuilding, and how rods would be used to force compaction on the joint and tighten the entire structure in each direction. I hadn’t seen this type of joint previously, and find it fascinating.

What makes them so appropriate here is that they lock the structure together without the need for glue or mechanical fasteners. We’ve all seen retaining walls that have failed or are in the process of doing so. This box lasts as long as the wood does.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Fettler's profile


206 posts in 3155 days

#12 posted 05-14-2014 04:23 PM

I was just buttressing our sloppy raised beds. I’m pretty jealous.

We live in Seattle (Green Lake) and with the consistent moisture /humidity the boxes look pretty tattered after a year. I just build some hanging planters using compound dovetails I should post.

Where did you buy the lumber? Best deals on Cedar I’ve found (w/I driving a hundred miles) is at limback lumber in Ballard.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View vskgaming's profile


83 posts in 2773 days

#13 posted 05-14-2014 07:36 PM

Just cannot take my eyes off of the beautiful straight cuts using a hand saw :)

They look great.


View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3586 days

#14 posted 05-15-2014 01:04 AM

vskgaming, Drool no more. The compound angles were cut using a special 7 degree dolly and my bandsaw. The straight cut you see with the handsaw in the picture, is first done using a square and a circular saw then the last 7 degrees of cut is done with the hand saw. Thanks for the compliment though.
Fettler I paid $1.80 a b.f. delivered. I found these guys on Seattle C/List out of Port Townsend, I was happy at first when they delivered them but after I started cutting I discovered two of the 14 foot pieces had massive cracks (looked like the tree fell on a rock and partially broke the beam) but they sold them to me any way. I weighed the probabilities of me winning the argument and the cost of the aggravation, I used the spare four footer I bought, in case I made a stupid mistake which I didn’t. Cut out the broken pieces and glued in good wood, called it good.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3586 days

#15 posted 01-22-2019 04:29 AM

three years later they are still looking like new. Wow I’m so happy I made the extra effort

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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