Double-Twisted-Dovetail variations

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Project by David LaBolle posted 03-02-2011 12:31 PM 13634 views 23 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here are a few variations I have done of double twisted dovetails.

The first pic shows the joint as it is sliding together. Neither board can slide in or pull out as one of them would with normal dovetails. Therefor the terms “pins” and “tails” or “socket” doesn’t really apply with double twisted dovetails, even though many choose when laying them out to use only a few thin “fingers” for the joint which then appear to be “pins.” To put it together you slide them together at about a 45 degree angle, or rather, they slide down along the plane of the angle used.

For anyone wanting to give this joint a try, I have no secrets to keep and am happy to share. To lay it out all I need is a sliding t-square set tightly at a moderate angle, a good sharp marking knife, a comfortable place to sit, and a bit of quiet time. Make sure the t-square won’t slip or change angle as you will use that t-square many times per joint. I don’t use math to set it to a magic angle. I have no idea if my square was set to 7, 8, or 9 degrees. I just do it by eye. As far as the width of the pins or spacing between them, again I do it by eye. Look carefully and you should be able to figure out how the angles intersect from the face of the joint on across the top. Again, I use the same t-square set at the same angle all the way. The hardest part is transferring the angle from one board to another. To transfer the lines from one board to another I place them face-to-face and use my sliding t-square t scribe a mirror image of the first board. Look at the second pic carefully to see how they were placed when transferring from one board to another. It’s not so much “hard” as very exacting. The whole joint is really. You must use the sliding t-square to lay the lines at a precisely consistent angle. The cutting, as well, must be spot on. I have not found any way to fudge or repair a mis-cut line. If you lay out every line consistently and cut them each precisely the joint will work.

The box has the same profile showing of the dovetails on all four sides and appears to be impossible to assemble. It’s not impossible of course. I’ll shoot a short video next time and post it on YouTube for anyone interested.

-- When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for

30 comments so far

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5332 days

#1 posted 03-02-2011 01:03 PM

Hi Rice,

I think I can speak for all of us at Lumberjocks when I say, “yes, we are interested in a video” so, get busy. I appreciate your willingness to share and especially the time it takes to do such a thing. I haven’t gone back through your other work yet but I will and I’m sure I’ll find the same quality. Thanks for posting the great info and welcome to LJ.


-- Jim

View FoolsLairWoodworks's profile


22 posts in 4032 days

#2 posted 03-02-2011 01:13 PM

The only thing I can even think of saying is that’s amazing! Please, do show more. And thank you!

-- Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Refurbish.... Yeah, I run one of the local No Kill Wood Shelters. Thanks, Jim Root, Bolivar MO

View dbol's profile


136 posts in 4340 days

#3 posted 03-02-2011 01:25 PM

It doesn’t look like a dovetail. Looks more like a box joint. Just sayin’. They look good though.

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4182 days

#4 posted 03-02-2011 01:30 PM

very nice indeed.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View David LaBolle's profile

David LaBolle

216 posts in 4013 days

#5 posted 03-02-2011 01:39 PM

dbol, I didn’t come up with the name of the joint. It has been around awhile. I just came up with this variation with evenly spaced “fingers” which, you are right, do make it look a bit like a box joint, but look carefully, and you will see that unlike a box joint, it’s all compound angles, not straight cuts.

Here are a few links with other variations of the joints.

The first image of this slide show from Fine Woodworking also shows a double-twisted-dovetail.

Follow this link to more of Kintaro Yazawa’s work. The desk on the far right of the middle row also uses a double-twiste-dovetail. (turn down your speakers first, the midi music on the page can be a bit jarring)

And, of course, in a list like this, you must include Richard Jones’ article on the double-twisted:

-- When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 4226 days

#6 posted 03-02-2011 03:37 PM

I thought today was going to be a great day but after looking at that I have a headache. Great work

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 4613 days

#7 posted 03-02-2011 03:40 PM

Very very interesting and quite a challenge I am sure.

Thanks for sharing

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4427 days

#8 posted 03-02-2011 05:25 PM

Thank you for making the gray matter set up and take notice, I guess I will be about 220 years young
before I manage to get caught up with everything I am tryilng to learn here, but it sure is fun trying.
Time to go out and play in the shop before i get too far behind.

-- As ever, Gus-the 83 yr young apprentice carpenter

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4919 days

#9 posted 03-02-2011 06:46 PM

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4806 days

#10 posted 03-02-2011 07:08 PM

Awesome joint and craftsmanship. I have to agree with the headache. My brain said OWE, don’t you dare twist me like that! LOL. Seriously, the video would be welcome, this is a cool joint. Please note the posting of the video on this thread. I’m setting it to a watch status.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Robw's profile


56 posts in 4033 days

#11 posted 03-02-2011 08:37 PM

Rice, thanks for the post, most interesting. I love the links to some of the coolset joinery thet I’ve ever seen. are all those pics the same box? Looks like babinga, very hard stuff.


View Tim's profile


43 posts in 4522 days

#12 posted 03-02-2011 09:28 PM

Just when I was proud of my square bookcases…..

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4936 days

#13 posted 03-02-2011 09:55 PM

Intricate, very cool

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 4460 days

#14 posted 03-03-2011 01:48 AM

Wow, that is very cool, looks hard to do, I would like to see this process in action as well, those who try to achieve the impossible most often create magic, truly magic, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4630 days

#15 posted 03-03-2011 02:13 AM

great job can you show or blog on how there cut?

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

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