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Universal dovetail joint: a geometric investigation.

Dounas, Theodoros; Spaeth, A. Benjamin


Theodoros Dounas

A. Benjamin Spaeth


N. Gu

S. Watanabe

H. Erhan

M. Hank Haeusler

W. Huang

R. Sosa


The paper presents the geometrical investigation of a three-dimensional dovetail joint that can lead (timber) frame construction to more than two-dimensional frames; the creation of timber construction with timber members meeting at irregular angles can be shown to be feasible, simplifying overall construction. Traditional joints in timber construction usually work only in two dimensions, in other words in planar surfaces, resulting thus in complicated assemblies in three-dimensions. Stemming from traditional timber dovetail joints, the universal joint under investigation is produced under revolution of the geometry of a dovetail fastener through its middle axis. The resulting concave disk can connect timber elements under irregular angles, without the need for the structural members to lie in the same plane. The joint works due to friction between members rather than using any other element of bonding, allowing for the assembly of joints and structural members with no specialized tools. The paper explores the geometric constraints and degrees of freedom that such a disk creates in timber construction, and consequently in similar linear construction systems.


DOUNAS, T. and SPAETH, A.B. 2014. Universal dovetail joint: a geometric investigation. In Gu, N., Watanabe, S., Erhan, H., Hank Haesler, M., Huang, W. and Sosa, R. (eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA 2014): rethinking comprehensive design: speculative counterculture, 14-16 May 2014, Kyoto, Japan. Hong Kong: CumInCAD [online], pages 409-418. Available from:

Conference Name 19th International conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA 2014)
Conference Location Kyoto, Japan
Start Date May 14, 2014
End Date May 16, 2014
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2013
Online Publication Date May 14, 2014
Publication Date May 16, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 29, 2018
Publisher CumInCAD
Pages 409-418
ISBN 9789881902658
Keywords Universal joint; Timber construction; Geometric investigation
Public URL
Publisher URL


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