Dovetail-routed Frames

Dovetail Frame Assembly

We have found the following methods effective for assembling our frames using the Hoffmann Dovetail System.We recommend you always INSPECT the frame and DRY-FIT the mitered corners face up on a level table before assembing – Do NOT install plugs at this time, as they cannot be removed.

For All Assembly Methods:

  • Use a flat, smooth, clean surface that does not have any “give” (not padded or carpeted.) Be sure there is no debris that could cause scratches or indentations in the finish.
  • Before applying glue, do one more dry test of the corner while it is in the appropriate vice, jig, or on the table.
  • Apply only enough glue to adhere the mitered surface. AVOID EXCESSIVE GLUE! Note: Glue squeeze out can damage the finish!
  • If the dovetail slots are deep enough to take more than one plug, we recommend that you insert the shortest plug first, then immediately tap the second plug in behind the first plug. The final plug can be tapped to slightly recess it.
  • Use a stubby wide, flat screw driver and tap or push the back of the plug to recess it slightly.
  • Lift up the assembled corner and inspect the face. If any glue did squeeze out, carefully wipe it off with a soft, slightly damp cloth.

Flat-faced mouldings: can be assembled face down on a flat, clean table.

  • When assembling a frame with the face down, be sure the surfaces of the table and frame moulding are both clean. Do not slide the moulding as this could scratch the surface.
  • Carefully place the two adjacent legs of the corner upside down. Dry fit one more time before applying glue.
  • Adjacent legs of the frame go upside down on the clean, flat table.
  • Apply just enough glue to adhere corner without squeeze out. Push both sides of the corner together to close the miter, keeping it aligned. Before glue sets, carefully begin inserting plugs with gentle thumb pressure. Recheck alignment of the corner then tap plugs with a hammer until flush with the back of moulding. Note: It is critical to have the corner aligned perfectly before tapping in the plugs as the alignment cannot be adjusted once the plugs are tapped in.

All other mouldings shapes:

  • Place moulding in corner vice, align, and glue as you would any other assembly method.
  • Let the glue dry thoroughly.
  • When dry, gently remove the corner from the vice and place it on a flat, level table – face up.
  • Gently slide only the corner off the table enough to expose the routed groove(s) on the underside – keep both legs of the frame firmly supported on the flat surface to avoid stressing the corner.
  • Gently insert a dovetail plug into the groove and push up as far as possible with your fingers while applying counter-pressure to the face of the moulding. Careful to keep the face aligned. Note: plugs are a snug fit.
  • Once the plug has been started into the groove, there are a couple of good options.
    • A) lift up the corner and rest the protruding plug back on to the table. Gently and firmly push the corner downward against the table. This will force the dovetail plug deeper into the groove until it becomes flush with the back of the corner.
    • or B) while the corner is still off the table, hold the handle of a hammer and use the top “T” surface to gently push the plug flush to the back of the moulding. Be sure to provide counter pressure on the face to retain alignment.
  • If each groove requires more than one plug, insert the smallest plug first then additional plugs as needed using the same method.
  • If there is more than one routed groove per corner (as on a wider moulding) start both plugs at the same time.

Double Dovetail

Recessed Dovetail

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