As long as people have been doing woodworking, woodworking joints have been used. But there are so many types of wood joints that it becomes difficult to make the right choice.
So, do you want to know more about woodworking joints?
Then you will definitely find what you are looking for here!
In this article, you are about to discover 11 different wood joints that are commonly used in woodworking:
- butt joint,
- half-lap joint,
- mitered joint,
- dado joint,
- box joint,
- tongue and groove joint,
- mortise and tenon joint,
- pocket hole joint,
- rabbet joint,
- biscuit joint
In addition to describing the different wood joints, you will also find more in-depth information.
What does it mean to join wood? How to joint wood? What are the advantages and strengths of each type of wood joint?
By finding all these answers, you can use this information in your workshop to determine which woodworking joint is the right one for the project you’re working on.
Do not forget to download the FREE POSTER on this blog. You can print it and hang it in your workshop as a guide.
This blog post contains the 11 most used types of wood joints. If you want to discover other, more specific woodworking joints, please check out this website’s woodworking joints category after reading this blog.
- What does it mean to joint wood?
- How do you join two pieces of wood together?
- What tools do you need to make joints?
- What are the most common different wood joints?
- Essential woodworking joints #1: Butt joints
- Essential woodworking joints #2: Half-lap joints
- Essential woodworking joints #3: Mitered butt joints
- Essential woodworking joints #4: Dado joints
- Essential woodworking joints #5: Tongue and groove joints
- Essential woodworking joints #6: Mortise and tenon joints
- Essential woodworking joints #7: Box joints
- Essential woodworking joints #8: Pocket hole joints
- Essential woodworking joints #9: Rabbet joints
- Essential woodworking joints #10: Biscuit joints
- Essential woodworking joints #11: Dovetail joints
- Which woodworking joints should you use?
- Recommended books about Joinery
What does it mean to joint wood?
If you didn’t want to make joints, you would need a very large solid block of wood, so you could make it all in one piece.
Woodworking joinery means that two pieces of wood will be connected together to build a bigger whole.
That connection must be well-thought-out and tailored to the project you are working on.
How do you join two pieces of wood together?
With woodworking joinery, you saw the wood in a way, so that two pieces fit together, and you get a strong and durable connection.
Joining can be done with glue, screws, or nails, or by using only wood.
But what types of woodworking joints are there, and which one is best for that particular project?
Continue reading this blog for the 11 most common types of woodworking joints and their specific strengths and benefits.
After that, you will have a clear idea of which types of woodworking joints are best suited for the project you are working on.
Don’t just use any wood glue for your projects!
To find out which different types exist and for which applications wood glue serve, check out my blog Understanding Wood Glue + 8 awesome tricks you should know.
Here you will discover everything you need to know about wood glue.
What tools do you need to make joints?
You can make woodworking joints with a minimum of tools.
You start with a good way to mark your work, such as a pencil or marking knife.
Use a square to mark at right angles.
Finally, you can cut the joints with a good handsaw.
Below, I selected a few tools with which you can make almost any joint described in this blog.
For some woodworking joints, you will be able to replace the hand tools with power tools, but I will describe that in the relevant joint.
There are several options for marking your workpiece. I describe them in my blog — 7 woodworking techniques for better accuracy.
Make sure to check out that blog to find the best marking tool for you.
With this set of squares, your marking lines will always be at the right angle.
Dovetail saw guide jig
Making dovetails needs to be precise. With this magnetic dovetail guide jig, you always make perfect cuts at the same angle.
What are the most common different wood joints?
If you want to make wood joints, you can choose from a whole arsenal of options.
The 11 most common different wood joints discussed in this article are: the butt joint, half-lap joint, mitered joint, dado joint, box joint, tongue and groove joint, mortise and tenon joint, pocket hole joint, rabbet joint, biscuit joint, and dovetail joint.
I will further clarify these, one by one, below.
Essential woodworking joints #1: Butt joints
The first, and also the easiest joint I will discuss, is the butt joint.
A butt joint is nothing more than when one piece of wood with the end grain is connected at a right angle to the long grain of another piece of wood.
It may be a very easy type of connection, but it is also one of the weakest.
Usually, this connection is secured with fasteners such as screws or nails.
Butt woodworking joints also work well with dowels and wood glue.
The butt joint is a joint that is often used when making wall frames or sometimes furniture.
- Easy to make
- Two pieces of wood connected at a right angle
- Weak connection
Essential woodworking joints #2: Half-lap joints
Most of the time, glue is used to make a connection between the two boards.
With a half-lap joint, half the thickness of each piece of wood is sawn away so that the two boards fit together, and the pieces fit flush together.
You can use this joint if the pieces of wood you use have the same thickness.
This type of wood joinery will weaken the strength of the two boards by cutting them, but it is a stronger joint than butt joints.
Half-lap joints are widely used in the construction of furniture.
If you have to make more than one half lap joint, and you want to save time making these joints, check out this half lap joint jig for the table saw.
Thanks to this jig you can speed up the process of making these joints several times.
- Wood has to have the same thickness
- Cutting the wood will weaken it
- Stronger than Butt joints
Essential woodworking joints #3: Mitered butt joints
A mitered joint is very similar to a standard butt joint.
The difference with butt joints is that the two boards are connected at an angle instead of at right angles to each other.
This connection is made when it is indicated for aesthetic reasons that the end grain is no longer visible.
However, just like the butt joint, the miter joint is not that strong.
- Made for easthetic reasons
- Two pieces of wood connected at an angle
- Weak connection
Essential woodworking joints #4: Dado joints
A dado is a very popular joint for connecting two pieces of wood in a strong way.
This is a commonly used wood joint for connecting plywood when building cabinets or bookshelves.
To make a dado, you cut a slot from one piece of wood, into which another piece of wood fits exactly.
The groove you make where the other piece of wood has to fit must be made very precisely.
If you make the slot too narrow, the piece of wood will not fit in. If you make the slot too wide, the piece of wood will not be stuck and will fall out.
You can use a kerfmaker as an aid to make this slot perfectly tailored.
- Strong connection between boards
- To make cabinets and bookhelves
- The slot has to be perfectly sized
If you want to build your own kerfmaker be sure to watch my blog DIY Kerfmaker for perfect dados and grooves.
In that blog I will show you step by step how I built my kerfmaker and you can download FREE PLANS as a guide to make your own kerfmaker.
Essential woodworking joints #5: Tongue and groove joints
A tongue and groove joint is a perfect choice if you want to connect two planks along one long side.
At the tongue and groove joint, the edge of one plank has a groove while the other plank has an extended thin tongue that fits into the groove of the first plank.
This type of connection can be glued and ensures perfect alignment and a strong connection between the two boards.
Tongue and groove joints are often used for laminate floors or facade cladding.
- To connect board along their long edges
- Perfect alignment of the boads
Essential woodworking joints #6: Mortise and tenon joints
This is a classic and one of the oldest types in this list of different wood joints available.
As with the tongue and groove connection, here is also a board with a groove and a board with a protruding part that fits into this groove.
The groove, or what is called the mortise, is a square or rectangular hole that is chiseled out of one piece of wood.
On the other piece of wood, a tenon is cut that fits perfectly into the mortise.
These mortise and tenon joints can be glued or attached to each other with dowels.
In the past, this connection was often used in the manufacture of furniture, but also in construction.
- Elegant way of making joints
- Can be used for just about any application
Essential woodworking joints #7: Box joints
The box joint is a fairly simple but very strong connection.
If the chosen wood, such as plywood, does not allow making dovetail joints, the box joint is a perfect alternative.
Because the cuts are square, no delamination will occur with plywood.
With this connection, you make fingers on each board that fit together perfectly when the boards are connected.
When wood glue is added to this joint, you get a very strong connection.
The box joint is often used to make drawers or wooden boxes.
- Perfect when you use plywood
- To make drawers or wooden boxes
Essential woodworking joints #8: Pocket hole joints
The pocket joint is an extension of the butt joint.
By drilling a pilot hole at an angle on one side, you can insert a screw that pulls the two planks together and connects them.
For this, you use a pocket hole jig.
I myself use this Kreg pocket hole R3 JR, a simple starter kit for a very reasonable price.
I can recommend it to everyone to have this pocket hole jig in their workshop.
Pocket joints are excellent for making front frames or cabinets, where you can hide the openings of the pockets.
- Perfect for making cabinets
- Be aware of the holes that arise when drilling
Essential woodworking joints #9: Rabbet joints
A rabbet is actually the same as a dado. The only difference with the dado is that the slot is not placed in the middle of the board but is cut along the edge of the board.
Rabbets are a common wood joint for making cabinets, where they are often used on the back of the cabinets.
By attaching a back panel to this rabbet, the cabinet becomes whole, more solid.
- Similar to the dado joint
- Cut along the edge of the board
Essential woodworking joints #10: Biscuit joints
An alternative to the tongue and groove method is biscuit joints.
These types of connections are much faster to make than the tongue and groove connection, but you need a special tool for this.
With this tool, you make small grooves where the biscuits fit.
These will align the boards and hold them in place while you glue them together.
This type of joinery has been increasingly used in modern woodworking in recent years.
It is an ideal way to make tabletops.
- Fast and easy
- You will need to buy adapted tools
I selected a few of these tools that you can use for this type of joinery, together with the biscuits you need for this.
Essential woodworking joints #11: Dovetail joints
As the last of all wood joinery methods, I will discuss the dovetail joint.
If you have been looking around for articles or videos about woodworking for a while, then you have undoubtedly come across this connection.
This connection is classic and, because of its shape, it is beautiful and very strong.
There are some variants of the dovetail joint, such as the Half-Blind Dovetail Joint and the Sliding Dovetail.
In the end, they all come down to roughly the same thing.
A pin that widens towards the end is made on one plank, and in the plank you want to connect, a hole is made that has exactly the same shape as the pin.
By sliding these two parts into each other, a strong and solid connection is created because of the shape of the fingers.
Dovetail joints are, in my opinion, the most difficult connections to make.
You will have to practice this.
- Most elegant joint of all
- Very strong connection
- Difficult to make this joint perfectly
Which woodworking joints should you use?
It is difficult to give a general answer to this.
The choice of the right connection depends on the project and the type of wood you are working on.
Should it be a strong connection or rather an aesthetic connection?
Do you need to connect wood on the end grain or along the long grain?
By going through the different wood joints, you now have a better understanding of how these woodworking joints are constructed, and you will be able to decide which connection is best suited for your project.
Do not forget to download the FREE POSTER that you can hang in your workshop.
Recommended books about Joinery
Books are always a good idea to have.
They are a win-win situation, you enjoy your favorite reading with a nice glass of wine, and you learn something new.
These are my recommended books about joinery:
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I hope this information about the 11 essential woodworking joints was helpful, and that this list of different wood joints inspires you.
Let me know in a comment below.
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I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in another blog or video.
Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration
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