This is Where we Fight about ‘Fishtails’


Here is joint I have not encountered yet. I suppose they are technically dovetails, but I think the construction looks more like tails of fish.

Paul Windle-Taylor of Brittany, France, discovered them at the back of the bottom drawer of an ornate carved Breton armoire made in about 1908 as wedding present by the father of the bride.

“As with much of this rural working, the external work is of fine quality but the intrinsic build is massive,” Paul wrote. “I was struck by the assumed bomb-proofness of the work. This is one drawer back that will not come off!”

What is awesome about this crazy joint is that it does not require glue to stay together. C’est bon!

— Christopher Schwarz

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15 Responses to This is Where we Fight about ‘Fishtails’

  1. jonathanszczepanski says:

    No glue necessary? I guess that will keep the vegetarians at bay.

    Is there a pic of the mating piece?

    • paulobro says:

      The mating is made, the matching piece is in place…

      • jonathanszczepanski says:

        After staring at it for another ten minutes, I see it now. It’s like one of those Escher drawings – hard to get the perspective.

  2. You can classify this as a mortise and tennon at this point, no?

  3. Fishtails first, or fishpins?

  4. Eric R says:

    And now that you have shown this picture Chris, there will be a six month discussion on twenty different web sites regarding every single blessed aspect of it…….
    Such, is the power, of LAP…

  5. Mike Siemsen says:

    Looks like a regular dovetail to me with a bit of extra meat on the off side

  6. does this joint come with chips?

  7. Just Great!
    Now messing with fish – Jean Jack Cousteu will raise from the grave.
    What’s next…??? some “rock joints” to mess with geologists… or maybe something about the cruelty in the extraction/exploitation for honing stones in the “mines” of the people of Arkansas.?
    And the ink that Lost Art Press uses for their books? I bet that’s something wrong about it!
    Shame on YOU!!!

    My real only complain is some of your books are a “little heavy” in my pockets.
    Keep up the great job Chris and team.

    António from Portugal

  8. gburbank says:

    proof that even a butt-ugly joint can be rock solid…

  9. Jeremy says:

    Could it be that someone cut pins first thinking it was a square corner and then scrambled to fix the tail board?
    Like the “Swallow tails” that Neil Cronk recently came up with, the lessons learned here could be effectively used, perhaps as an “hourglass” joint that is unique, yet no harder to cut (by hand) than normal dovetails.

  10. I think I can see the logic of this joint. A traditional through-dovetail at the back of a drawer has one problem: when you pull the drawer out far enough to see the back, the drawer often falls right out. One way to prevent this is to place the drawer back further forward, using a dado instead of dovetails to join it to the sides. The result is “horns” behind the back that prevent the drawer from dropping on your feet. (I don’t know how traditional this method is, but Paul Sellers has advocated it.) The drawer above solves the problem in a different way, but with the same result. The back retains the strength of a dovetail while keeping the “horns” on the drawer. It’s an unconventional joint to say the least, but not much more difficult to make than a regular dovetail.

  11. redtaildd says:

    I saw a similar joint during one of my classes at Palomar College. The joint slipped together easily but at an odd angle. It had mechanical strength in both directions parallel to the joined parts. I never saw how it was cut. The instructor had received it as a gift from a Japanese visitor who cut in seconds.

  12. Lin Niqiu says:

    I’ve seen similar construction on Chinese pieces although cut with a bowsaw

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