I don’t have any photos on me so hopefully I can describe this ok. Say I build a box like so:

  1. Cut the four sides.
  2. Cut dado in bottom of each side, on table saw (I don’t have another good way), which means they extend end-to-end.
  3. Join the four sides with box joints or dovetails, for aesthetics.

Now there is a problem. Because the slots in the sides are cut end-to-end, they knock out an exposed piece at the bottom of the corner joints, leaving conspicuous holes where the corners overlap the slots. Also, once the base is in place, the sides of the base are visible through these holes. Because there are dadoes in all four sides, there is no way to cut the joints to hide the holes.

How can I avoid this? Is there a trick? A different kind of corner joint? So far the only thing I’ve done is cut plugs to fit in the holes, but then the grain doesn’t match up properly and they still look like a sloppy patch job (which they are).

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  • 2
    This is a fairly common issue, and not just with machine-made elements. When the end of the grooves being visible is inevitable the usual fix is to glue in a small block of the same wood. It's not ideal obviously (better than filler!) but with careful selection of the wood for the plugs, so the grain does match as closely as poss, you can get a pretty darn good result — good enough that it's not easily seen unless you specifically look for it. If visible glue lines are a particular part of the problem for you currently you might switch to hide glue.
    – Graphus
    Aug 19 '18 at 17:51
  • 3
    THE solution for this of course is to cut stopped grooves, Using a powered router is the usual way today of course but if you don't have a router you don't have a router. So how about using a scratch stock?
    – Graphus
    Aug 19 '18 at 17:54
  • 1
    You could cut your dado so that one of the dovetail tails covers the end of the dado. In your illustration, imagine moving the dado up so that it's entirely behind the bottom tail. (Or pin. I get them confused.) That way, when you put the sides together, the end of the dado is completely covered. Of course, that would probably mean that you'd only have the dado one two sides (opposite).
    – 3Dave
    Aug 24 '18 at 17:36
  • @3Dave yeah; if I want the dado on every side then even if I move it up it will just expose the hole on the red side (since it’s through the yellow bit). Although... if I line the dado up with a thingy (lol) that would at least mean I’d only have to cut a stopped groove on one or two side instead of two or four. So that saves some work.
    – Jason C
    Aug 25 '18 at 15:03
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    If you weren't against a bit of chisel work you could set up a stop block so that most of the material is taken away by the table saw and then you just chisel out the remaining material (that is left because of the curve of the blade). This would let you leave them as stopped groves.
    – Stuart
    Dec 23 '18 at 9:37

If you use half-blind dovetails, you can position the dado so it is hidden behind one of the dovetail pins so it wouldn't be visible.

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