How to join wood
When making your own furniture, or designing projects for a home, there are several ways to joint timber and board products. Knowing and understanding the various joints that can be used will help you design and assemble lasting projects.
Call me the Queen of Butt Joints, as this is one joint that I use the most! You can use butt joints to join in so many ways to assemble tables, chairs, cabinets, bookcases and more. To join you can use dowels, countersunk screws or wood glue.
What I love most about butt joints is that they are so easy to do. Using a pockethole jig also means that you can create almost invisible butt joints.
This type of joint requires a tool known as a Biscuit Joiner, and small compressed wafers of wood known as biscuits. When glue is applied to the biscuits, they expand to fill up and bond the drilled cavities.
A biscuit joint is used to join sections of timber and board for a strong, invisible joint. Are common in both frame and carcase construction. They are particularly convenient for panel glue ups as they facilitate alignment of panel members.
Dowel joints are a strong joints that are practical for joining small sections of timber or board, or for invisible joints.
I do own a biscuit joiner but prefer to use dowel joints as a replacement for this technique, due to the fact that I find it a mission to drag out the joiner and go through the process. You can replace biscuit joints with dowel joints.
They are far more affordable, as no specialised machine is needed. You have probably seen dowel joints on chairs, cabinets, table, and they are extensively used to join chipboard panels together.
A mitre joint involves joining to sections - each cut at a 45° angle, to form a corner like that normally used in picture framing. Other uses for this joint are moulding, skirtings and trim. To cut a 45° angle you can use a mitre saw, jigsaw, circular saw or mitre box and backsaw - although bear in mind that the last option is a lot of hard work!
This is the perfect joint for making a bookcase, bookshelf, or for mounting strong shelves. A dado joint is a groove cut across the grain to a width that allows the insertion of horizontal board. The easiest way to cut a dado joint is with a router.
The most common joint in carpentry, a dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. Dovetails can be cut by hand or with a dovetail jig or template. Dovetails are often found on antique and reproduction cabinets and tables in addition to drawers.
Mortise and Tenon Joint
Simple and strong, this joint has been used for thousands of years to join wood. This is another joint that you will find on chairs and table frames. A mortise and tenon joint is used to join two pieces of wood at an angle (usually 90°) to each other. A protruding tenon, cut at the end of one piece, fits into a corresponding recess, called a mortise, in the other. Although there are many variations of this type of joint, the basic mortise and tenon comprises two components: the mortise (hole) and the tenon. A mortise and tenon joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place.
Rabbet or Rebate Joint
This joint is made by cutting a recess into the edge to allow for an overlapping joint between two sections. In addition to increasing the gluing surface, the rabbet also provides support and alignment for two separate sections. Used on small boxes or decorative pieces due to its lack of strength.
Tongue and Groove Joint
Widely used for wall and ceiling panelling, the tongue and groove joint allows for concealed shrinkage once mounted. Tongue and groove joints allow two flat pieces to be joined strongly together to make a single flat surface. Each section has a slot (groove) cut all along one edge, and a thin ridge (tongue) on the opposite edge. This joint should not be glue, as shrinkage would then pull the tongue off.
[images: fine woodworking]