8 ways to make end-to-end joints that hold
Basic half-lap joints
Attractive, strong, and easy to make on a tablesaw or router table, half-lap joints create face-to-face gluing surfaces. The more the overlap, the better the bond.
To make a simple half-lap joint, begin by marking your cuts. For identical laps, place both workpieces side by side with the ends flush and the appearance side up on one piece and down on the other. Mark an "X" where you'll cut your lap on each piece; then mark a line across both pieces and extend the lines from the faces to the edges on both pieces, as shown at right.
Next, install a dado set at least 5/8" wide in your tablesaw and set the blade height to cut half the thickness of your workpieces. Test the fit of the joint using scrap, as shown in second photo. Faces of the test scraps should be flush, with solid wood-to-wood contact at the laps.
Now, cut a dado from the marked joint lines to the ends, as shown in third photo. A miter-gauge extension helps position each pass and reduces tear-out. (One piece will be dadoed with the appearance side down.) Then test-fit the joint, as shown in bottom photo, and check for gaps between the laps or between the bench or saw top and one of the faces. Glue and clamp the laps for a permanent connection.
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