Woodwork Joints

Anatomical Structure of Woodwork Joints

Who said that joints are strictly medical? Surprisingly, they also exist in a carpenter's glossary too. In fact, woodwork joints have outnumbered the three types of joints found in humans namely the diarthroses, amphiarthroses and synarthroses. But don’t worry because we won’t be dealing with these medical terms. Let us direct our attention on how we can build stable, stylish, and sturdy woodwork by familiarizing ourselves with the different types of woodwork joints.

Depending on the type of woodworking project you may have in mind, the following will help you decide on what appropriate woodwork joint to use. With the advent of new tools and machineries, traditional joints have evolved in various types. These woodwork joints differ in styles but have the ultimate purpose of making a strong and stable woodwork.

1. Square Butt Joint. Simply known as the butt joint, it is the most basic joint in joining two pieces of timber relying solely on glue to stick it together. The advantage of this is its being quick and easy to make. It is very useful in making boxes and picture frames. However, since the end of the timber where glue is applied is porous which absorbs most of the glue, it becomes difficult to hold the timber together. On the other hand, this can be strengthened by using screws or pins as support.

2. Mitre or Miter Joint. This is a joint created by sawing one end of two parts to be joined at an angle of 45° to form a 90o angle corner. This is more often used in making picture frames than butt joints. Although this popular method of joining is cheap, it requires accurate cutting to achieve its best strength and visual appeal.

3. Dado Joint. Also known as the housed joint, this type of joint is most popularly used in making bookcases, shelves, and drawers . Unlike butt joints, this joint does not need the benefit of any glue or screw to hold it in place. To make a dado joint, a cut in one piece of wood receives the end of the other. It is much stronger than the butt joint and has a more professional appeal.

4. Dowel Joint. To make a dowel joint, drill aligning holes in each piece of wood then by using glue attach the dowels in place for a tight joint. To achieve high accuracy, it requires a dowelling jig and bits. Use a jig and a drill press to obtain straight holes with uniform depth.

5. Mortise-and-Tenon Joint. This joint is used to join two members perpendicularly. A rectangular projection from the end of one piece called the tenon fits snugly into the mortise cut in the second piece. This strong and traditional joint can be made even stronger by adding a peg. This is commonly used in antique furniture building.

6. Tongue-and-Groove Joint. Also known as the finger joint, this joint allows for wood shrinkage, it's great for floors and paneling. Long tapered tongues or fingers that interlock join two pieces of timber lengthwise. A high powered router is used to cut a groove in the edge of one piece and a tongue on the other to fit into the groove.

7. Through-Dovetail Joint. This is one of the most stylish joints available, but also one that requires additional patience and more accuracy to cut. The interlocking cut of the wood makes it really strong plus gives more visual interest. This type of joint is used in the manufacture of superior furniture.

8. Lap Joint. This is made by laying one piece on top of another. This can be used either in an angle or lengthwise joint. Lap joints can be made manually with a saw and chisel, on a table saw or radial arm saw with a dado blade, or with a router and a straight bit. Meanwhile, there is a variation of a lap joint which is the half lap joint. This is when half of the thickness from each piece is removed. To make a half lap joint, several cuts half the depth of the material is made while the excess is removed with a chisel.

Now that you know most of the different types of woodwork joints and you can now determine which is best suited for your next woodwork project, there is no reason why you shouldn’t start working on it.


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