Knowing how to join different pieces of wood together is an essential part of woodworking. It is quite a specific part of carpentry. The art of joining wood has a particular term – joinery. The person who specializes in joining wood is a joiner. Although joiners exist for working on other materials as well, wood is the primary material upon which a joiner works.
Different Types Of Woodworking Joints – The Ultimate Guide
Without further ado, let’s get into the different types of woodworking joints that you can find:
A butt joint is one of the most basic and straightforward woodworking joints. You create this joint by butting two pieces of wood together. However, a butt joint is also the weakest joint you can fin in woodworking. It is because it relies on the glue that joins it. Hence if there isn’t any additional reinforcement, a butt joint can break very easily. Another reason why the butt joint is weak is that the surfaces that are glued are the “long grain” and “end grain” parts of the individual wood pieces. It becomes very challenging to get the glue to hold the pieces together. You would typically use nails or screws to further reinforce a butt joint.
This type of joint is the slight progression of the butt joint as it is a butt joint with reinforcement. The biscuit joint uses biscuit-shaped wedges of wood to insert in the slots (mortises) in the opposite-facing planks of wood. To make a biscuit joint, you need to have a tool called a “biscuit joiner” which creates the biscuit-shaped slots.
Here, we have a joint which is quite similar to the mortise and tenon joint, which we shall discuss further down. There are male and female parts to this joint. One piece of wood is shaped to form a tenon (male component) and the other to form the mortise (female component). This joint provides three gluing surfaces. It is commonly used for joining furniture legs that have a rectangular cross-section.
Flat pieces of wood are joined together with this joint. A dado or housing consists of a slot that we cut throughout the length of the wood. The dado usually runs perpendicular to the grain of the wood. It is unlike a groove, which runs in the direction of the grain. The opposing piece of wood runs through the entire length (or width) of the dado. We usually use this joint for joining shelves on a bookshelf.
In this joint, we use pins cut out from the wood in the shape of a dove’s tail. We then cut correspondingly-shaped receptacles into the opposite facing wood. On joining the two faces of wood, the pins and tails get interlocked to form a joint which gets further reinforced with glue. A dovetail joint requires no additional mechanical fasteners like screws or nails. Dovetail joints are popular for joining the sides of a drawer with the front section.
The name of this joint is also a “box joint.” We use this joint for joining two right-angular wood pieces. This joint is similar to a dovetail joint, only that the pins are square and do not have an angle. You will need a wood router and a simple jig to make this joint.
Lap Wood Joint
A lap wood joint is another popular type of woodworking joint. These joints are usually half-lap joints where the “lap” is shared between the two sections being joined. The joint finds extensive use in joining pieces of wood used in cross-bracing; for example, the bracing used to strengthen a chair.
Hence, you can see this joint where two members of a wooden structure occur perpendicular to each other. To create a half-lap joint, you remove material from both the pieces to be joined so that when put together, they are equal to the thickness of the thickest section.
Mortise and Tenon Joints
The mortise and tenon joint is among the most durable joints that you can find in woodworking joints. One end of a piece of wood is carved to create a rectangular cavity called the “mortise.” We then shape the end of the other part in the shape of a rectangular pin called the “tenon.” It will have roughly the same external dimensions of the mortise, with perhaps a millimeter of gap all around for easy fitting. Here again, you will need a woodworking jig and fence to create this joint, although, many skilled woodworkers handcraft this joint. There are different varieties of mortise and tenon joints that you may like to explore.
This joint is another popular joint. It is a butt joint that uses the support of screws. You need to clamp the two pieces of wood together and drill an oblique, countersunk hole that passes through both the sections. All you need to now is to screw both the parts together, with perhaps, a bit of wood glue. You will need a specialized jig called the “Kreg Jig” for drilling the holes.
A rabbet joint features the edge of a piece of wood that has a recess. In cross-section, it looks like a step. Opposing steps are created in two pieces of wood, and then you put them together to create a part of a single thickness. This type of joint helps to hold glass panes in window frames.
Tongue and Groove Joint
Here is a joint that joins planks of wood together, longitudinally. Opposite facing planks have a “tongue” and “groove” respectively cut into them. The two faces are then brought together to form a seamless surface along the common edge of the two planks. You can find this joint in wide tabletops, or in wooden flooring or parquetry paneling.
Tools For Woodworking Joints
So, what are the tools that we need to have to be able to join wood? Apart from the regular carpentry tools, you will need two things:
A jig is not just a tool that we use for preparing the ends of wooden joints. It is a die of sorts, which has the capacity of drilling and cutting in various shapes and sizes. Jigs don’t restrict themselves only to woodwork but find use in all kinds of engineering operations. However, the jig in this article is mainly the woodworking jig.
You can buy a readymade jig, customized for particular types of joints, or you can fabricate a jig yourself. A good jig should allow you to make adjustments for creating different joint types. The main component of a jig is usually a circular saw, which cuts the wood in the desired shape for a particular joint.
While using a jig, you need to be a bit creative. However, you can find many videos on the internet that will help you set up your jig for creating the desired type of joint.
A fence could be best defined as a guide. It is a straight edge and positions itself parallel to the saw. We attach the fence firmly to the saw table. By making adjustments on the fence, you can determine how the wood gets cut. You need to press the wood firmly against the fence for a precise cut.
The importance of woodworking joints
The art of joining wood has been in existence since ancient times. In fact, you can find dovetail joints in the wood of Egyptian sarcophaguses. We judge the quality of skilled woodworking based on tight and neat joints in wood. Proper joining is where the two pieces come together as one, seamlessly and with the joint hardly being visible. Once you master that, you are well on the way to becoming an expert.
(Featured Image Jordanhill School )