Mind Mapping & Creative Thinking

Common Woodworking Joints

It is essential that you have a good knowledge of common woodworking joints for your exams and for your coursework.

Wood joints are used for two main purposes. They are used to build box constructions of various shapes and sizes and frame constructions.

A box may be used for storing jewelry, toys or clothes.

Frames are used for making things like stools, chairs, tables and  ladders.

It is important to try to cut joints as accurately as possible or the strength of the joint will considerably reduced.

Butt Joint

The butt joint is the simplest of all joints. It is rather weak unless strengthened by using glue, pins or corner blocks. Butt joints can be used on corners or as partitions/dividers within boxes.

DO NOT EVER say that you will use NAILS!!!!!

Mitre Joint

This joint is used on corners. It is useful because it hides the end grain and also provides a larger gluing area. Like the butt joint it is weak unless the joint is strengthened. This is often done by cutting slots and gluing veneers in between. Mitres must be cut at 45O we use a mitre cutter or set a cross cutting saw table to the required angle.

Mary, Milly and Lucie are all using this type of joint on their project this year so have alook at their work if you are not sure what this joint looks like.

Dowel Joint

This corner joint is essentially a butt joint which is strengthened by wooden pegs called dowels which are pushed into both pieces of wood as they are glued. Dowel joints can also be used to secure partitions. If the dowel holes are ‘blind’ (they do not go all the way through) the dowels are completely hidden.

Dowels should not be just pieces of dowel cut to length they need to be correctly fashioned to ensure total strength and reliability.

Look carefully at the picture and you will see the fluted sides and the chamfered ends.Rebate Joint

This corner joint is stronger and more rigid than a butt joint, but some end grain shows. You will need a tenon saw, chisel and mallet to cut this joint by hand but they can be cut with a router or a radial arm saw if they are set up correctly. (Pupils cannot use a Radial Arm Saw).

Comb Joint (Finger Joint)

This is an interlocking corner joint. It must be made accurately or the strength and appearance of the joint will be severely limited. These joints can easily be made by machine using a special jig. They are used to make cost effective joints on the corners of value for money drawers. High quality drawers would have dovetails!

Dovetail Joint

This is a very strong joint but is also a very difficult joint to cut by hand, these days they are usually cut by machine either CAM or using a special jig. It has very good mechanical strength which is increased if it is glued. Remember these joints are stronger in one direction than in another. If you pull against the tails then there is maximum strength.

Housing Joint

Is stronger than as simple butt joint. It is usually used for shelves or partitions but it is difficult to cut accurately by hand. It can easily be cut with a router and an appropriate jig. In industry these are often cut with CAM equipment. These joints need to be  glued but can also be pinned in some cases to increase strength.

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1 Comment »

  1. Dovetail joints are my favorite to use. They are one of the strongest joints in my opinion, are visually appealing, and can be used in a number of situations.

    Comment by Richard — January 13, 2010 @ 7:48 pm


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