Woodworking Awards - Winter 2022 - are open for votes

Lock Your Dovetails and Box Joints


Early on in my career, when I took an interest in building furniture, I took a good look at antiques to get an idea of how furniture was constructed.

One of the biggest surprises to me, was to find that it was not uncommon to see dovetail joinery and box joints falling apart. This really surprised me until I came to understand the reasons why.

Through my study and observation of antique furniture, I also came up with a simple, yet ingenious solution to lock the dovetails and box joints together.

In this video I share my favorite woodworking tip and technique of all time, which is how I lock my dovetails and box joints together.

I hope you find the information in this video helpful and that you go out in the shop and give it a try.

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A. Clippinger

Share the Love – Share the Knowledge.

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge


Thanks Todd for sharing, great idea.


Hey Jack – glad you enjoyed and thanks for watching. Hope you give it a try some time and see what you think.

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge

Thanks Todd ,very good idea almost the same as pegging tenons.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

a1Jim – RIGHT! That is exactly the comparison I have made to others.

There is a lot of furniture out there where the tenons have held up just fine. There is some that is loose, but still holding, and some that have separated.

It is pretty much the same story for dovetails and box joints. Of course, the box joints are far more likely to pull apart than the dovetails because they do not lock together like the dovetails. But the point is that I have seen these joints in the various conditions just like tenons. Not all come apart, but some do.

The pin is just one way that, I think, pretty much guarantees that they won’t come apart. It is highly unlikely the pin will come out.

The beginning was a bit dramatic of course, it was a hook;)

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge

I’ve been doing that for several years now.
It works very well!

Dez – Cool! I think it is a very logical thought to add the locking pin so I knew I wasn’t the only person doing it, but I had never seen anybody mentioning it or doing it in their work. Thanks for watching the video and thanks for the feedback!

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge

Good tip Todd. I used this technique quite a few years ago on some box jointed storage shelves for my shop and my garden shed, also without glue. They still look freshly done after 16 years. I used nails instead of wooden plugs.

Mike, an American living in Norway

Mike40 – that is great to hear! I was interested in hearing feedback from others that have done this, I still am surprised it is not really common.

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge

Very cool, I haven’t seen this before. Will start pinning some of my dovetails.

Rob, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Manitario – Cool! Will be looking to see how you use it! You do some seriously great work.

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge