December 07, 2020

Wood joinery is an important aspect of woodworking as it helps in joining various pieces of wood together to create a single structure.  As a woodworker, it is crucial to identify the different types of woodworking joinery and know how and when to use them.

It is essential to understand that wood joinery varies in strength and how they hold the pieces together. Having a grasp of different types of joints helps in allowing a woodworker to come up with firmly held pieces that are durable. There are several important tools that can make joinery easier. Tools like a biscuit joiner and domino joiner can be used, along with hand tools such as chisel’s, dovetail jigs and a table saw.

Butt Joint

A butt joint is the simplest form of joinery that involves joining the end grain of one piece to the long grain of the other piece. Glue is used to hold the pieces together and screws or nails can be used on the end of the material. Butt joints are ideal where the work is rustic or rough. It is also a fast method. However, for the butt joints to hold, ensure the joining techniques are up to the right standards. Glue and clamps are essential for this type of joinery method.

Biscuit joint

Biscuits joints are more of fortified butt joints that are oval. The biscuit joints are made with compressed wood and put together using glue. The joints are placed in corresponding holes that are cut out in each of the wood. The biscuit joiner is used to make mortises and is also ideal for holding plywood, table tops, cupboards and panel glue ups. They are also perfect for casework as well as reinforcing edge joints. A biscuit joiner, biscuits, glue and clamps are essential for this joinery method.

Dado Joint

A dado is a slot that is cut into the surface of the wood and has three sides when viewed in cross-section. It is cut perpendicular to the grain and can either be a through dado which passes through the entire surface or a stopped dado which stops before meeting the edge of the wood surface. Dado joinery is commonly used when putting up shelves and there are three types. Blind dado, half through and through.

Bridle Joint

Bridle joint entails cutting off one end of the piece into a tenon and the other into a mortise and the pieces are fitted together to make a corner. Bridle joint comes with immense strength and durability. The bridle joint is ideal for creating frame pieces or legs. It is easy to remove the joined pieces easily without messing with the joint integrity. This join can be made on a table saw or with a handsaw and chisel.

Dovetail Joint

Dovetail joint entails wood pieces having tails and pins that interlock together. Their trapezoid shape enhances immense strength and durability thus no need for fasteners, just glue. The dovetail joint is commonly used in drawers to connect the sides to the front. This is quite a difficult joinery method, but modern jigs can make this possible for even beginner woodworkers and is most commonly used for drawers and boxes where the corners are visible. Dovetail joints can be made with several types of jigs.

 Finger Joint

The finger joint, just as the dovetail joint uses a series of pins that are combined together using glue. However, the finger joint pins are straight unlike the dovetail’s which are angled. They are easy to make especially with great skills using a jig on the table saw or router. The finger joint joins two pieces at right angles to each other. Using contrasting pieces of material make a great looking joint. Jigs can make this joint easier to make.

Pocket hole joint

The pocket-hole joint entails cutting a slot and a pilot hole at an angle between board pieces before interlocking them together. Unlike the butt joint which uses glue, the pocket hole joint uses a screw that is driven into the adjoining materials. The low-angle pocket and the pilot hole enables the joint to be stronger thus no chances of pieces shifting. Also. The pre-drilling of the pilot hole calls for accuracy and that is well accomplished using a commercial jig. The pocket-hole joint is perfect for cabinet face frames among other applications. A pocket hole jig is essential for the use of this joinery method.

Lap Wood Joint

The lap wood joint is used in cases where the wood materials have a similar thickness. This joint combines both kinds of wood by removing half the thickness of each piece. The cut piece will typically fit into the corresponding cutout of the other material with ease. The lap wood joint is suitable when making workshop storage items. Lap wood joints can be made with a table saw or hand saw.

Rabbet Joint

A rabbet joint is similar to the dado joint only that it is cut along the edge of the wood material. It is very simple and straightforward and gives considerable strength to the assembled structures. A rabbet joint is two-sided and open at the surface end when it is viewed at across-section. This type of joint can be used in various woodworking projects such as cabinets. It helps in attaching the back edge of the cabinets to the side for perfect fitting. It is also used in glass panes where the rabbet joints are used for the insertion at the edge of the frame. A rabbet joint can be made with a dado stack on a table saw, several passes with a circular saw or by hand with a saw and chisel.

Tongue and Groove Joints

It is easier to use a butt joint when joining two boards together along an edge and hold them using fasteners. However, using the tongue and groove joint allows for more strength as well as the provision of extra adjoining surfaces which plays an integral role when it comes to gluing the joints. This edge-to-edge joint entails one wood material having a groove that is cut along the edge and a tongue that is found on the mating edge. It allows for close fitting and can be used to make wide tabletops. The tongue and groove joints are also effective when it comes to paneling, wood flooring, and parquetry.


Woodworking joinery plays a vital role in all woodworking projects in creating structures that are strong when assembled. It is important to grasp different types of woodworking joinery and know when and how they are used. The above-mentioned types of woodworking joinery are friendly to both beginners and professionals. Also, knowing the type of tool to use when making the woodworking joinery is important in making the entire project easier. Remember, to practise each method when suitable to develop your skills and become proficient in each different types of joinery.

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