# How to Prepare Sunrise Dovetails (Japanese Dovetails)

40,714

272

19

Read the Instructable, and watch the video, on how I make this Sunrise Dovetail joint, then try it yourself.

Looks impossible? That's simply an illusion.

It isn't easy to get your head around at first sight, but once you've read the instructions and seen the video, it should be a lot clearer.

### Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

## Step 1: Cut Your Blanks

You'll need two boards to join

They should be prepared square and true (videos on this can be found on my youtube channel if necessary)

The same width and thickness is recommended for your first attempt, but I'm using pieces of different thickness here (it makes no difference to the instructions)

## Step 2: Gauge Thickness

Use a marking gauge to scribe a line around the end of each joining piece that is the thickness of the mating piece away from the joint end

You can just use the mating pieces directly, by standing the piece to me scribed on end, and laying the other piece flat and against it. Then draw a flat knife across where the pieces meet. Do this all the way around each of the joining ends

## Step 3: Place a Centre Line

To ensure that the dovetail is centrally located, and aligned on both pieces, a centre line should be struck through the width of each end (and down the face to the gauged line)

Measure to find the mid-point, then use a marking knife and try-square to place centre lines on both pieces

Of course, should you wish to place multiple sunrise dovetails along a joint, you can lay in centre lines for each of them

## Step 4: Offset From Centre Line - the Central Pin

The middle of the dovetail is the central pin. Therefore to lay this in you have to mark off half the pin width from the centre lines

Set a pair of dividers to half the wide end of the pin, and mark it off from the centre lines at the edges which will be furthest from the joints outside corner

In the photo, you'll see that I keep the 'inside face' to 'inside face' while doing the end grain marking out. That way, the wide end of the pins is always where the pieces meet

Set the dividers to half the narrow end of the pin, and mark it off from the centre lines at the edges which will be nearest to the joints outside corner

## Step 5: Mark Off Pin Ends on End Grain

Reset the dividers to the full width of the thick end of the pins, and mark these off from the central pin (each gap being equal to the same measurement)

Do the same for the narrow ends of the pins

Now it's possible to 'join-the-dots' and mark in the pins on the two end grains, preferably with a marking knife

## Step 6: Pin Ends on Faces

Use the previous method to mark in the wide pin ends on the outside faces of each piece, at the gauged line

Join all the pin ends up using a marking knife

The photo shows the marking in pencil, for higher contrast, but the thickness of pencil lines can lead to inaccuracies

Now mark in all the waste areas - take particular care, and use the diagram shown if needed

## Step 7: Saw Out Waste

A fine Japanese dovetail saw has a thin enough kerf that you can probably saw right on the lines, but if using a thicker kerfed saw then saw towards the waste side of the lines

Saw each side of all the pins, following the two marked lines on the face and end of each piece and then completing the cut down the inside face, using the first half of the cut to guide the saw

Saw off the waste from the two outside edges of the one piece, following the gauged lines

Use a jeweller's or fret saw to cut across at the base of the waste between pins, leaving the gauged lines to be cleaned up in the next step

## Step 8: Pare Away Remaining Waste & Fit

With sharp chisels, pare away the remaining waste, back to the gauged lines, ensuring that no 'hump' is left in the joint between the gauged lines (this would prevent the joint fully closing)

Some finessing of the mating surfaces may need to be made to allow the joint to be assembled, since the large surfaces present a lot of friction. Make adjustments bit by bit, trying frequently

Once fit, apply glue to all mating surfaces and assemble

Depending on the wood used, you may need to chop the waste out. If so, remember that the slots are all angled

## Step 9: Finish

A few shavings with a smoothing plane should remove the gauged lines and flush the pins nicely

You can see how this, my second attempt, is much improved over the first sunrise dovetail I made! Don't be discouraged if your first one looks a mess

A little polish, and it doesn't look too bad

Thanks for reading my instructable, and don't forget to watch the video!

There are more joints to see on my YouTube channel (forty two at last count), and also some others here as instructables

Cheers,

Mitch

## Recommendations

• ### 3D Printing With Circuits Class

7,091 Enrolled

## 19 Discussions

You do have some fine skill. My compliments and thanks for sharing.

It looks impossible, like the pieces will never be able to be fitted together!

Well done, really nice work :)

I've always wondered. How did the first person to make something like this think of it? Amazing 3D thinking! Like those horseshoe and rings puzzles for example.

I am in awe, but not even going to try this. I already have trouble screwing two pieces of wood straight on to eachother

2 replies

Haha! Clamp them in position, drill a hole in the top piece big enough for the screw and very slightly into the second piece. Now drill a pilot hole in the second piece, the size of the screw without it's thread (smaller for softwood). Should go together without any problem

exactly how I do it, but then afterwards not 100% level or not 90degrees ;-)
I have a high admiration for skilled woodscrafters

OMG that has to be a nightmare to cut out correctly. Very nice job though.