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How to Achieve Perfectly Painted Dovetails Every Time!

Ever wonder how a professional furniture artist gets crisp painted dovetails? Now I can't speak for anyone else but this is how I do it for a beautiful finish.  In the early days I used to paint them by hand but would struggle with consistency hence I came up with this process.


You will need:

Frogtape or another brand of painters tape.  I always have a few in varying widths;

A cutting blade;

A ruler (I use a metal one);


The Process
Step 1: Before you start taping, make sure that you have sanded and cleaned the drawers ready for painting.


Step 2: Take a piece of tape and align it with the base of the triangular (dovetail) joint as shown below.  Ensure you press it down with your fingers to ensure proper adhesion.  I was using the yellow delicate Frogtape as I'd run out of my normal tape but when using on an unpainted surface I would definitely recommend the green.


Step 3: As per the image below start adding horizontal strips of tape in line with the edges of the dovetails.  These dovetails were tiny so I used a medium sized tape but for some projects you may need a thinner one to prevent the tape overlapping and obscuring the joints.


Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until only the dovetails are visible (see image below).  I sometimes add another vertical strip of tape to secure the tabs of tape I've added around the dovetails.


Step 5: Now take your ruler and line it up vertically with tip of the triangular dovetails and firmly run your (sharp) cutting blade along the edge.


Step 6: Now gently peel off the excess tape to reveal your beautiful dovetails ready for painting!


Step 7: This is what the side of your drawer should look like prior to painting.  You know what the best bit is?  Peeling all the tape off when you've finished painting; it is such a satisfying feeling!

I hope this helps and I'd love to hear how you do yours (or perhaps you don't)?!

Julia xx

1 comment

  • Love this! Thank you! Photos step by step make it so much easier 🙌


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