Types of Joints and When to Use Them - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

  • 2 Post By WoodworkingTalk
  • 1 Post By GeorgeC
Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 3 Old 04-10-2017, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
WoodworkingTalk's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 64
View WoodworkingTalk's Photo Album My Photos
Types of Joints and When to Use Them

Every woodworker must join pieces of stock together at some point or another. Even if you're already working as an apprentice or under the guidance of a pro, you may not know the names of the most popular joints you'll come across. Getting to know the different methods of joining wood and the strengths (and weaknesses) of those particular joints can further your journey to become an expert woodworker.

Butt Joints and Miter Joints

The butt joint is the simplest joint – it's named because one piece of wood stock butts up against another and is affixed using nails, screws and sometimes glue. These joints are the go-to for simple 90-degree angles that don't require being 100% precise or inherently strong. Butt joints are great for making frames, boxes or other square or rectangular projects that don't bear too much weight.

The miter joint is a close cousin of the butt joint – it's basically an angled butt joint. Each piece of stock is cut to a precise 45-degree angle. When glued together (nails are less commonly used), this joint produces a perfect 90-degree angle.

Biscuit Joints and Spline Joints

Biscuit joints and spline joints are reinforced versions of the simple butt joint. In a biscuit joint, you attach a biscuit – a circular piece of wood – in mortises on each piece of stock. Although the biscuit makes the butt joint stronger, the attachment of them makes the join imprecise. Thus, it's not ideal for finished work that will show. Think drawers and recessed fittings.
Spline joints are reinforced with a piece of plywood or other material inserted along matching grooves or plows in each piece of stock. The spline reinforces the join and is a viable substitute for the tongue and groove joint. These joints can also be used as decorative accents using contrasting wood.

Tongue and Groove Joints

Tongue and groove joints are popular in the woodworking world for large projects – making a tabletop out of multiple pieces of stock or laying wood flooring. A channel is cut on one edge of one piece of stock to form the groove. On the matching piece of stock to be joined edge-to-edge, a tongue is cut. The tongue and groove allow the joint to fit snugly together. If you're working on a piece or with materials that require you to factor in shrinkage, tongue and groove is the way to go.

Box Joints and Dovetail Joints

Box or finger joints are so named because they look like interlocking boxes or intertwined fingers. This popular joint creates a strong right angle and is commonly glued together. The edge forms a decorative join and is perfect for visible angles that require good structural integrity.

You might use a finger or box joint to make a jewelry box or other item where the edges can be seen.

A dovetail joint is a close cousin of the box joint, but it requires more precision and accuracy as the intertwining pieces of stock that are pushed together to form the right angle are also angled or serrated, rather than square. The dovetail joint has more strength than the box joint and is the preferred choice for attaching drawer sides to fronts.

Some of the most popular types of woodworking joints are also the simplest. Whether you've been making them for years or are a complete woodworking newbie looking to further your craft, knowing the most basic and common woodworking joints can help you on the job.
artman60 and Cowpokey like this.

Follow WoodworkingTalk.com on Facebook!
WoodworkingTalk is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to WoodworkingTalk For This Useful Post:
sheriff12 (04-26-2017)
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 Old 04-26-2017, 04:58 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Bradenton, Florida
Posts: 8
View sheriff12's Photo Album My Photos
The best article I've read on this subject.
sheriff12 is offline  
post #3 of 3 Old 04-26-2017, 05:41 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Florida Panhandle
Posts: 9,532
View GeorgeC's Photo Album My Photos
" Although the biscuit makes the butt joint stronger, the attachment of them makes the join imprecise."

I believe that the majority sentiment is that biscuits do not add a lot of strength. Most use them for alignment. That would contradict the imprecise comment.

"If you're working on a piece or with materials that require you to factor in shrinkage, tongue and groove is the way to go." ??? How does that help?

Cowpokey likes this.

Last edited by GeorgeC; 04-26-2017 at 05:43 PM.
GeorgeC is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome