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Basic Woodworking Joints


Joinery makes or breaks a project. Generally, the more difficult the joint, the stronger it is. That's why woodworkers decide on the joints they'll use early on in the planning stages. Here's a sampling of popular joints, some simple, some more difficult.

Butt Joint. A simple joining of two pieces of wood, either at a corner or edge to edge. Make it stronger with glue blocks or screws.

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Dado Joint. You'll see this joint on bookcase shelves. A dado cut in one piece receives the end of the other.


Dowel Joint. Drill aligning holes in each piece of wood, then glue dowels in place for a tight joint. Perfection requires a centering tool.


Lap Joint. Add gluing surface and strength to a butt joint by cutting a rabbet in the overlapping piece.


Miter Joint. Create this corner joint by sawing one end of each piece to 450. It demands accurate cutting.


Mortise-and-Tenon Joint. A strong, traditional joint that can be made even tougher by adding a peg. Not all mortises go all the way through.

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Through-Dovetail Joint. There's not a better-looking joint, nor one that requires more patience and accuracy to cut. The interlocking feature makes it really strong, but adds visual interest.


Tongue-and-Groove Joint. This joint allows for wood shrinkage. Cut a groove in the edge of one piece and a tongue on the other to fit into the groove.


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