Woodworking joints enable us to create items from multiple timber boards. Without the use of joinery techniques, everything we make using wood would end up coming from a single piece.
Several woodworking joint styles are available to the woodworker to use, providing several creative options when putting together furniture, flooring, and more.
List of the Most Common Types of Joinery
Several standard woodworking joints are found in everyday items. You can see many of the following examples throughout your home.
1. Butt Joint
The end of a timber board is called the “butt.” Woodworkers forming this joint are placing two ends together at a right angle to create a corner. Mechanical fasteners are necessary to preserve this joinery.
You see this technique used most often when building wall or attic framing. Some picture frames, decking, and sandboxes also use it. You can see that butt-joint is used everywhere in my DIY wooden birdhouse tutorial.
2. Mitered Butt Joint
This joinery option connects two butts that get cut at an angle. The advantage of using this approach involves the strength of the corner. You receive a seamless look that does not show any end grain.
Since this joint has minimal strength, it is typically used for trim and molding purposes. A classic example of mitered butt joinery is the wooden picture frames.
3. Half-Lap Joint
Woodworkers use this joint to join two boards together to create a flush surface.
It happens most often when a connection is needed in the middle of the timber, although corner connections are also possible.
If the joint forms in the middle of both boards, it is called a cross lap joint instead.
You see this woodworking joint used for framing and cabinetry quite often. A birdsmouth joint is a variation used when the connection must be at an angle.
4. Pocket-hole Joint
Pocket-hole joinery is where a butt joint is fastened using screws that are at an angle. It requires the woodworkers to drill a pilot hole between the two boards. The two pieces get connected with a screw to create a durable, flat surface for the wood.
Usually, the holes are drilled at a 15-degree angle. Since the hole for the screw must get pre-drilled, measurement accuracy is critical to this technique’s success. The best way to accurately do this by using a pocket-hole jig to drill the holes.
Cabinet doors and frames often use this technique. It is also sometimes found in door jambs and residential archways.
5. Tongue and Groove Joint
Carpenters join two flat boards together to create a larger wooden panel using this option. One has a long edge carved at the edge, while the other has a groove cut in to receive the board extension. It can stay secure glue or fasteners for flooring, furniture, and similar applications.
All high-traffic flat surfaces benefit from the use of tongue and groove joinery.
Tongue and groove joinery can also be used to form square joints. In this case, the groove is cut into the surface of the board and the tongue is milled on the edge.
6. Dado Joint
The dado joinery method is similar to a tongue and groove joint. The only difference is that the dado is cut across the woodgrain whereas a groove is cut in the grain direction which is usually along the length of the board. Moreover, there is no tongue carved on the edges, instead, the groove is cut wider to accept the thickness of the mating piece.
Furniture makers and woodworkers typically use it for plywood, fiberboard, or other pressed products. Builder’s grade cabinets often use this technique to create a resilient product.
7. Biscuit Joint
Woodworkers use this technique to create a more robust version of the butt joint using tongue and groove principles. Both ends of the timber get a slot cut into them to hold a small wafer that acts as a connection. When the glue gets added to the insert, it starts swelling until the entire carved-out area gets filled.
Most tabletops and wooden counters use the biscuit joinery method to create a more reliable joint suitable for daily use. A dowel joint is a modification of this option.
8. Mortise and Tenon Joint
This woodworking joint was one of the first methods invented for construction. Mortise and Tenon joinery continues to be one of the strongest wood joints to use for framing and building. The technique is similar to the tongue and groove method except that a large square and receptacle form seamless joinery.
It requires precise measuring and craftsmanship to complete. Still, the technique also serves as one of the most beautiful connection methods we use. The joint typically requires a 90-degree connection to be useful.
9. Rabbet Joint
Woodworkers form this joint by forming a recess into the edge of the timber. It looks like the protruding edge from a tongue and groove joint, except it only has one side cut from it instead of two. While the rabbet joinery is a simple wood joint, it is much stronger than the butt joint.
This technique allows a flat piece, such as the back of a cabinet, to sit flush with both sides for a seamless finish. A variation of this joint is the dado rabbet joint.
You also see this joint used in windowsills and doors when glass inserts must sit within a frame.
10. Dovetail Joint
Woodworkers use this option to add strength to a corner. It uses interlock joinery of a series of pins and tails to create a resilient edge that can be used for furniture, cabinetry, and framing.
Hand techniques and machining are useful ways to develop it. However, the craftsmanship required does need more time than other joinery options.
11. Half-Blind Dovetail
Most drawers use this joint design because it features a trapezoid design for the pins that fit together at the end of the timber. Woodworkers use it to avoid having the connection visible from the front of the piece without compromising their work’s strength.
This is one of those wood joints that require the hand of a skilled woodworker. But the end result is a beautiful, strong joint that is well worth the extra efforts.
12. Sliding Dovetail Joint
Yet another variation of dovetail joinery is the sliding dovetail joint, which works like a tongue and groove while using the dovetail technique.
As you can see in the image, here the dovetail slot is machined in the face of the board while the pin profile is cut at the end of the matching piece.
13. Box Joint
This joint works at the end of two timber pieces to build a seamless right angle. You carve out a series of symmetrical slots to form rectangular projections called fingers. Once you glue the connection, the fingers get inserted to create a permanent bond that results in a solid corner.
Box joinery is an effective alternative to dovetail joints. The dovetail joinery works best on hardwood and it requires a complex machining process. On the other hand, box joinery is easy to create and works on most types of wood including plywood. You can easily cut the fingers of the box joint on a table saw with a set of dado blades.
14. Bridle Joint
This approach uses a modified version of the mortise and tenon joint. Instead of cutting a square piece to form a corner, woodworkers create a lengthy edge that fits into a grooved receptacle. It creates a right angle through this connection with three adequate surfaces that hold adhesive for added strength.
When you add rails to the modern bed frame with a headboard and footboard, the most common connection is a bridle joint. You can find several variations of this technique including t-bridle, mitered bridle, and double bridle joints which is commonly used in canvas stretcher bars.
15. Finger Joints
This type of wood joinery technique is mainly used to join two pieces of wood to make a longer board.
First, you have to cut fingers similar to a box joint, but deeper. In the case of a box joint, you join two pieces of wood at 90 degrees to achieve a solid corner. Here you lay the mating pieces flat and assemble them with a thin layer of wood glue between the fingers.
Why Are Woodworking Joints Important?
Many woodworking joints enable two timber pieces to function together without the use of glue or mechanical fasteners. Each technique seeks to use the strength of the wood to form usable items.
The characteristics of the joinery depend on the quality of the craftsmanship involved, the integrity of the wood, and the quality of the adhesive or fastener.
From puzzles to houses, woodworking joints are part of our lives every day. These techniques let us create what we need.
- List of the Most Common Types of Joinery