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At the beginning of March I posted a few photographs of dovetail joints that, at first sight, look impossible to put together, let alone take apart. As I said then, there’s no real trick to them; it’s just that the assumptions one makes about the parts of the joint hidden to the eye turn out to be wrong.

Here’s the double dovetail disassembled:

And here is the triple dovetail:

Ingenious and amusing, but rather short on practical applications.



  1. Brilliant! Many thanks for posting this.

    I’ve always wondered how the first joint was done and had previously assumed it involved a bit of kerf cutting and a wedge with perfect grain matching… :oops:


  2. Beautiful jointery. Nice to know some people still take the time to do this kind of work. Cheers.

  3. I don’t know about the “no practical application” I plan on using the double dove tail joint for the oversized beams that will be holding up my sister’s 3″ thick x 48″ wide x 9′ long (2 per table x 2 tables) cedar picnic table tops, and benches. The joint is strong enough? I’ll share the photos when complete. Nice woodwork!

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Another impossible object « Finely Strung on 15 Mar 2012 at 10:12 pm

    […] As someone who works with wood, I enjoy teasing him with the complete opposite: something that self-evidently has been manufactured but that looks impossible. One example is the captive screw here. But that’s a bit of a cheat because it depends on exploiting the remarkable elastic properties of some woods when treated with heat and moisture. Better are the apparently impossible double and triple dovetails that I wrote about a year or so ago. […]

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