Types of Timber Joints


If you are planning on working with wood for a project that requires at least two parts of timber, you have to know how to form a joint of some kind. Many different joints are available for connecting joints and the choice is most often decided for you by the strength need for the joint or the difficulty involved.

Butt Joint

  • The butt joint may be the easiest way to connect two pieces of timber, but it is considerably weaker unless reinforced. Your instructions may call for an L-joint instead of a butt joint, but it’s the same concept. Precise fitting is not always required, but fasteners that also provide reinforcement should be used. Reinforcement can be done with a corner block, installing dowels or gluing the two pieces together.

Miter Joint

  • The miter joint is an angled joint that is most often used in the construction of framing or molding. Furniture and cabinet makers will use a miter joint on a regular basis. This joint is also useful for hiding the end grain in a piece of timber.

Rabbet Joint

  • Unless you are constructing drawers, you may never have to make a rabbet joint in your woodworking career. This kind of joint is especially useful in making cabinets because it is able to withstand a strong pulling force. The best ways to make a rabbet joint are with a circular saw or router.

Mortise and Tenon Joint

  • Mortise and tenon joints are very strong. The strength provided is why this joint is often used to attach legs to tables and chairs. While the predominant use of mortise and tenon joints is to join two pieces at right angles, they can be used by experts for combinations of nearly any angular degree. The mortise is the hole part of the joint, while the tenon is the part of the wood cut away to fit into the mortise. The tenon is ideally about one-third the thickness of the mortised part of the timber.

Dovetail Joint

  • The dovetail joint is both strong and ornamental. The strength of a dovetail joint makes it good for use in furniture that is subject to constant stress. Because of its decorative quality, carpenters will often use a dovetail joint to showcase their skill in working with wood. A router can be used to make a dovetail joint more quickly, but experienced woodworkers are more likely to use hand tools like chisels and backsaws to give this joint its hand-crafted appearance.

Dado Joint

  • The dado joint is used to fit the end of one piece of wood into the surface of another piece. Dado joints are used in the construction of furniture, cabinets and shelving. A dado joint is a good choice for concealing the end grain on a piece of furniture.

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