Of the many terms that are used for people who work with wood, joinery may not be so familiar. While doubtless most people have heard of joinery, the exact meaning may not be known or it may be confused with another profession that has to do with wood.
What is Joinery?
Put simply, it is when two or more pieces of wood are joined together. The wood can be put together with nails, screws, or glue. Or the joining can be accomplished through the use of complicated joints that bring the wood together by their very shape. The purpose is primarily to hold the wood together securely, but it can also be used in a decorative function as well.
You can find joinery in most woodworking endeavors such as cabinetry, doors, flooring, furniture, windows, and more. You see it in most every home, office, and facility, yet it is not by definition carpentry.
Joiner vs. Carpenter
The difference between a joiner and carpenter is subtle, but an important one. The primary difference between a joiner and carpenter is that, the joiner joins wood to assemble the objects at the workshop whereas the carpenter put them together on site.
In other words, for creating stairs or window frames you would probably hire a joiner over a carpenter because they specialize in that particular type of woodworking product. Just as an optometrist is preferable to a general doctor if you want your eyes examined.
This is because joining is a specialist area of the carpentry field. This means that a carpenter will use joining in their overall work, but they are a generalist as opposed to a joiner who is a specialist. You will then hire a carpenter when you want to install the stairs and window frame at your home.
|Joiner works at Shop||Carpenter works on site|
|Building furniture at workshop||Fixing roofs and joists at homes and office|
|Making stairs||Assembling stair case on site|
|Building window frames, doors||Installing doors and windows at buildings|
|Creating cupboards and kitchen cabinets||Installing cabinets at kitchen|
You can find joiners in all types of woodworking professions, most notably construction. However, they can specialize in cabinetry, furniture, or other areas depending on their skill, talent, and dedication. A good joiner with a strong reputation will never lack for work depending on where their skills are needed.
This is because a joiner is skilled at creating more than one type of joint. There are many different types of joints that go well beyond putting two pieced of wood together at a 90-degree angle.
Where does cabinet makers fall in this category? They are similar to joiners that they do their work at shop floor. However, cabinet makers are a breed apart that they are highly skilled and has the ability to create designer furniture, high-end cabinetry, freestanding furniture etc.
What are some of the joinery techniques?
There are many different types of joinery methods that are used to put together wood. Gluing together is one of the simplest form of joinery. You could also use fasteners like nails and screws to provide added strength to the joints. But the real skill lies in creating the right type of wood joint that suits the best for your work.
This ranges from simple butt joints to complex Japanese joinery techniques. Other types of joints include but are not limited to the following.
- Tongue & Groove Joint
- Cross Lapped Joint
- Rabbet and Dado Joints
- Dovetail Joint
- Doweled Joint
- Mitre Joint
- Butt Joint
Depending on the need, a joiner can use one of several types of joints to create a strong connection. This is the type of specialty that enjoys a long history and will be used as long as people put wood together for all sorts of projects.
What is the Strongest Joint for Wood?
Arguably the strongest is known as a Mortise and Tenon joint. This type of joint consists of one piece of wood that has a hole cut into it while the other piece is shaped to fit into that hole. You will see this type of joint most often on bed frames. It is quite strong and sturdy, but you can pull apart the joint easily when needed.
Learn more about Mortise and Tenon joint here.
What tools do I need for joinery?
You will need tools to cut the wood to size, shape them to desired form and joinery tools to assemble the wood. Following are some of the tools that you will need.
- A power saw to cut wood. Example: Table saw, Miter saw
- Shaping tool: Wood planer, belt sander, random orbital sander etc.
- Power drill to make holes
- Wood router to create complex joints such as mortise and tenon.
- A domino or biscuit joiner in case you want to do biscuit joinery.
- Cutting tools: Saw blades, Dado blades, router bits and drill bits.
- Hand tools: Hammer, mallet, wood file, handsaw and clamps.
- Stationery: Tape measure, Marker, Wood glue
- Jigs: Pocket hole jigs, Dovetail jigs etc.
Finally you will finish your work by applying protective coatings such as varnish or lacquer.