The craft of woodworking joinery involves joining pieces of wood to assemble a more complete structure. It is one of the most satisfying niches of woodworking as many get satisfaction from joining small wooden components to form complex items.
Joinery requires skill to accomplish and comes in different types. It is also an integral part of woodworking because it defines how sturdy and durable the final structure will be. Joinery makes or breaks a project which is why most woodworkers first decide on the joint to be used while planning a project.
In this post, the different types of joinery and their features will be outlined.
Types of Wood Joinery
The types of joints outlined here range from the basic to more complex joints. It also considers joints held together with fasteners and the ones without them.
1. Basic Butt Joint
Starting with the most basic type, the basic butt joint is when one piece of wood butts into another. The joining generally forms an acute angle or a square and fasteners are used to keep it in place.
Basic butt joints are used in wall framings, furniture, and construction sites for platform framings. This is because of its simplicity and how sturdy it is when applied.
2. Mitered Butt Joint
The mitered butt joint is another take on the basic option. In its case, the ends of the two pieces of wood are joined at an angle, unlike the basic butt joint which is square. This is done because the metered joint does not show any end grain was joined.
A mitered butt joint is a cleaner and more aesthetic design compared to the basic butt joint. The downside to using a mitered butt joint is its relative weakness compared to the sturdy nature of the basic butt joint. The mitered butt joint should be used on smaller wooden frames and small boxes.
3. Half-Lap Joint
The half-lap joint consists of two boards with a half rabbet cut into both adjoining pieces. The two joints then come together at the cutout point to form a solid joint. Although many people think cutting rabbet into wood pieces should weaken the joint, the joining of both pieces forms a joint stronger than your average butt joint.
The half-lap joint is used in picture frames, door frames, and dust dividers in cabinets. You can also choose to apply glue to ensure to enhance the strength of half-lap joints.
4. Tongue and Groove Joint
The tongue and groove joint is used when joining two boards square to one another along a long edge. The joints are then held together using a fastener. Once fastened, you get a strong joint that can be used for diverse applications.
This joint type is generally used when forming tabletops, doors or panels. For a long time, the tongue and groove joint was used to register and align the edges of vertical paneling. Today, it’s application is much more diverse.
5. Mortise and Tenon Joint
The mortise and Tenon Joint is one of the classics used in joining wood for furniture and other applications. The joint consists of one piece of wood with a hollowed surface and another with an extruded end which fits into the hollow.
The mortise and tenon Joint is a strong joint that can be used to join furniture, frames, and cabinets. It forms a 90-degree article which can be more sturdy than the average basic butt joint.
6. Biscuit Joint
The biscuit joint is another excellent method for joining boards in a similar way like the mortise and tenon joint but along the edges. The joint involves cutting slots into both pieces of wood and making use of beechwood wafers, which is the biscuit, to hold the boards in place.
Biscuit joint is relatively a modern invention that is used for creating tabletops and other furniture. The joint can also be strengthened by applying glue to the Biscuit and both pieces of wood.
7. Pocket Joint
The pocket joint is a popular joint used in woodworking and it involves cutting a slot and drilling a hole at an angle between two boards. The hole is called a pilot hole and it serves as the housing for the screw which keeps the pieces together.
Or a commercial jig is generally used to do the drilling as accuracy is vital to the performance of the joint. Pocket joints are used for cabinet face frames and furniture. It is a strong joint that delivers a neater appearance after use. It is also recommended that the shrinkage factor of a piece of wood be taking into account when choosing this joint. This is because shrinkage affects the pilot hole and the integrity of the joint.
8. Dado Joint
A dado joint consists of a square-grooved slot on one board where another one board will fit. Thus forming a joint fixed at 90 degrees. A dado joint is a difficult joint to plan and make due to its structure but when correctly done they form strong joints that can support a load.
The dado joint is used is generally used to build cabinets and bookshelves. This is because of the strength and compartmentalization it brings to structures with multiple shelves.
9. Through Dovetail Joint
The through dovetail joint is another classic that has been widely used throughout the years by woodworkers. The joint involves cutting a serious of tails into a piece and a series of pins into another. These then join together to form a sturdy joint that is resistant to being pulled apart.
The joint is used in almost every woodworking project you can think of. The dovetail joint is used in frames, boxes, cabinets, and furniture.
10. Box Joint
The box joint is a simpler alternative to the through dovetail joint which is also strong and applicable in diverse situations. The box joint is generally used for joining the corners of boxes, furniture or cabinets.
The join involves cutting straight pins into a piece of wood and tails onto another. These structures are then joined together to form a solid joint.
The rabbet is another common wood joint you will find often used in cabinetry and shelving. It is similar to a dado cut along the board’s edge. Rabbets are used most often at the back of a cabinet and are used to attach the back of the cabinet to its sides.
This joinery technique adds strength to the overall structure. Rabbet joints are also ideal for building drawers and picture frames.
The rabbet joint is stronger than a simple butt joint. Additionally, glue and nails are also used to fasten rabbet joints.
12. Half-Blind Dovetail Joint
A half-blind dovetail joint is used so the woodworker can hide a joint from the front end. The only real difference between a through dovetail joint and a half-blind dovetail joint is that the latter can only be seen by one side while the other can be seen on both sides.
A half-blind dovetail joint is most often used to fasten a drawer front to the drawer sides. It is a better alternative to attaching a false drawer front using a through dovetail joint.
13. Sliding Dovetail
A sliding dovetail joint is one of the more versatile wood joinery options. It has a long groove with angled sides that serve as the tail for the sliding dovetail joint. There is also a corresponding long pin cut into the end of the adjoining board. This wood joinery option is often used for wooden drawer slides.
14. Dowel Wood Joint
A dowel joint is used to fasten drawer sections together. When you include a dowel joint to connect your wood pieces, it makes a stronger and more precise connection than you would get with glue alone. A dowel joint is strong and looks good visually, as long as it is done correctly.
15. Bridle Joint
The bridle joint is a woodworking joint very similar to a mortise and tenon joint. It is most often used to house a rail for something sitting upright like legs. It is strong, resistant to cracking, and is most popular when it comes to constructing a workbench. The bridle joint is one of the simplest joints to cut and doesn’t require a mortising machine.
How Is a Woodworking Joint Held Together?
Some wood joints require fasteners, bindings, or adhesives. Others only use wood elements. When an adhesive is needed for a wood piece, a carpenter’s glue or wood glue is a go-to option because it has been formulated to penetrate wood fibers. This makes the joints much stronger than just the wood itself.
You can also use a peg to hold a mortise and tenon joint together, while a dado joinery technique turns out to be stronger than simply nailing and gluing cross members.
Joints are integral parts of wooden structures and every woodworker has favorites. Here, the most commonly used joints in woodworking have been outlined as well as how they are applied in woodworking. You can learn more about woodworking through our comprehensive beginners guide to woodworking.