How to cut dovetail joints in logs

Written by bob white
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How to cut dovetail joints in logs
Cutting dovetail joints in logs can be a challenging task. (log cabin corner detail image by Scott Williams from

A dovetail joint is the most common technique used in carpentry to joint two pieces of wood together in a corner. Its design is relatively simple as it requires no mechanical fasteners to create an impressively strong connection. Mankind has been using this technique before history was recorded. Building a log home with dovetail joints can be a challenging task, but it will yield a strong but eloquently designed home. The first step is building the dovetail jig.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Log dovetail jig plans
  • Screws
  • Chainsaw
  • Chalk line
  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Build the two dovetail jigs according the acquired plans. These jigs will be custom sized according to the size of logs and amount of gap you desire between them.

  2. 2

    Cut the log with the chain saw about 4 to 5 inches longer than the finished room length. Mark a line down the centre of the log using a measuring tape and chalk line.

    How to cut dovetail joints in logs
    Cut the log with the chain saw. (chainsaw image by Andris Daugovich from
  3. 3

    Align the centre of the jig and the caulk line on the log at the required length. Fasten the jig to the log with several wood crews.

    How to cut dovetail joints in logs
    Fasten the jig to the log with wood screws. (wood screws image by Darko Draskovic from
  4. 4

    Cut the notches from the log with the chain saw, using the jig as a guild. Once you have completed a few, begin stacking logs and building your home.

Tips and warnings

  • Using a chainsaw requires some skill and can be very dangerous. Make sure you are wearing the required protection for both your body and face.

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