FIG. 1 - A simple
butt joint is formed by nailing or screwing two ends together.
FIG. 2 - Use a drill
to start the holes for a dowel joint.
FIG. 3 - The end lap
joint provides a great deal of strength.
FIG. 4 - The through
mortise and tenon joint is easy to make with a power saw and a dado head.
FIG. 5 - Use a mortising
chisel on a drill press to make an open mortise and tenon joint.
FIG. 6 - The conventional
mitered joint is made by mitering each corner at a 45-degree angle.
FIG. 7 - A mitered
joint with a spline adds great strength to the joint.
FIG. 8 - Biscuit joints
can be used in any number of applications.
MAKING CORNER JOINTS
- On almost any woodworking job, you occasionally need to make a strong corner joint. But there are many types of corner joints. Which type is best for the job you are undertaking?
- The simple butt joint is most commonly used (Fig. 1). This joint is
formed by nailing or screwing the end of one piece of wood to the end
of the other. While this is simple, fast and effective, the butt joint
cannot be used on many types of end joints.
- A simple butt joint leaves the heads of the screws or nails exposed. Of
course, the heads can be countersunk and covered with water putty or
wood filler if desired.
- The dowel joint is basically the same as the butt joint except dowels are
used to hold the two pieces of wood together instead of screws and nails
- You can make the dowel joint by drilling holes completely through one piece
of wood and into the other. Dowels are driven into these holes, completely
through one piece of wood and deeply into the other. Then glue the dowels
firmly into position to provide strength and prevent slippage.
- Construct blind dowel joints by drilling the holes only partway into each
piece of wood. Then drive the dowels into these holes and glue them
into position. The dowels are not visible.
- While dowel joints have the advantage of being inconspicuous, they do not
provide the structural strength of a simple butt joint.
- The end lap joint is made by sawing halfway through each piece of
wood and then knocking out or sawing away half of this area (Fig. 3).
- Now you can put the two pieces of wood together with screws, nails, corrugated
- The end lap joint provides a great deal of strength, but the heads
of the nails, screws or corrugated nails are exposed.
- The through mortise and tenon joint is easy to make with a power saw and
a dado head (Fig. 4). A through mortise and tenon joint is suitable
for various woodworking jobs.
- To form this joint, saw a slot into one piece of wood. The end of the other
piece of wood is then notched out to fit the slot in the first piece
- Insert the notched piece of wood into the slotted piece of wood and
glue, nail or screw the piece into position.
- When making a through mortise and tenon joint, be sure to measure the areas
to be notched and slotted before making any cuts.
- You can make an open mortise and tenon joint by cutting the slot or mortise
only partway into one piece of wood. Then create a notched-out area
on the other piece that fits into the slotted area in the first piece
of wood (Fig. 5).
- The open mortise and tenon cut creates a stronger joint than the through
mortise and tenon joint. It can easily be cut with a mortising chisel
on a drill press.
- Although the open mortise and tenon joint provides more structural strength,
it is a little more difficult to make than the through mortise and tenon
joint. However, with a little practice and the proper tools, you can
make either joint easily.
- The conventional miter joint is widely used for making corners in various
types of woodwork (Fig. 6). However, it is not recommended where the
joint is subject to excessive weight or unusual strain.
- The conventional miter joint is made by mitering each corner at a 45-degree
angle (Fig. 6). If you'll be using many miter joints, you'll need a
regular miter box or a homemade miter box.
- Use nails, screws or corrugated nails to attach the two pieces of
wood in a conventional miter joint.
- The conventional miter joint is common for making trims around cabinet
doors and other trim pieces.
- A miter joint with a spline is easy to make and adds great strength to
a common miter joint (Fig. 7).
- First cut a regular 45-degree-angle miter joint. Then cut a groove
in each end of the pieces to be mitered. Or if you prefer, you can lay
out the 45-degree angle on each piece of wood. This will show you how
deep the groove needs to be. Go ahead and cut the groove while the end
of the wood is still square. This makes cutting the groove much safer
and much easier. Next cut the 45-degree angle.
- After sawing the grooves, saw a spline to fit the grooves.
- Use a top-grade adhesive to hold the spline in the mitered joint in position.
Or if appearance isn't important, it can be nailed or screwed into position.
- A newer version of the spline is a biscuit, a football-shaped spline. The biscuit requires a power biscuit jointer tool that is easy to use and produces excellent results. Biscuits can be used on almost any type of joint (Fig. 8).