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Sturdy Arches Made With Dovetail Joints
Handyman and woodworker Charles Winslow produces “super strong” garden and greenhouse arches by using dovetail joints. Winslow says he’s perfected the technique after years of experimentation.
  Winslow uses wood pieces 16 in. long plus the length of one dovetail to join them. If he wants an 8-ft. dia. arch, he finds the circumferance and divides by 16 to find out how many pieces are needed for a circle. He rounds that off to a full number, which is 18 for a half-circle, so he needs 9 pieces of wood.   To find the angle he needs, Winslow divides 360 degrees by 18, which equals 20 degrees. Each piece is then cut at 10 degrees and joined.
  A 10-ft. dia. arch needs 23 pieces, and he uses 11 pieces for that size cut at 8 degrees.
  “A dovetail joint holds extremely well in all but one direction,” Winslow says. “With a hand-held router I can make them fast and very exact. I’ve also developed a system to make compound dovetails, which are loose to the final fit, but they’re even stronger than a single dovetail.”
  Winslow can make arches from 2 by 4’s or 2 by 6’s cut to any length. Sometimes he’s even cut his own 2 by 6 blocks out of firewood. He uses mostly fir or pine on his arches, but says just about any wood will work. “I use an 8 degree dovetail bit because the small angle causes less chipping on the wood. The purlins are all made from 2 by 4’s and have 3-in. long dovetails.”
  Over the years Winslow has built and sold close to a dozen arches for $500 to gardeners who used them for growing vines or to produce a walkway. He’s also made larger arches used for a greenhouse frame that’s covered with plastic.
  “Now that I’m 83 years old I don’t have the energy to build them for others, but I will sell the plans to anyone who wants to build their own,” Winslow says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Charles Winslow, P.O. Box 15, Ashcroft, B.C. V0K 1A0 Canada (ph 250 453-2675; cwinslow@telus.net).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2