15 Different Types of Wood Joints and Their Uses

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Woodworking not only creates functional pieces but also works of art. Being familiar with wood joinery can result in strong, versatile, and beautiful wood pieces. 

If you want to know how to choose and craft the appropriate type, our woodworking team has created this guide to the different types of wood joints for your wood project.

What are Wood Joints?

Woodworking joints are constructed from sheets of varying types of wood as a result of wood joinery techniques. These wood are needed to secure pieces of wood together. These wood joints are held together with nails, fasteners, glue, and pegs. 

Importance of Woodworking Joints + Which Type Do I Need?

These wood joints are mainly used to stabilize projects, provide flexibility and durability, as well as create an overall aesthetic appearance to the piece. 

Wood joints are more commonly used to secure picture frames, furniture, and wood flooring, among others. But, different woodworking projects require specific types. Read further to decide which one you should use. 

woodworking joints

18 Wood Joinery Types

#1: Butt Joint

A traditional wood joint comes in the form of a butt joint. It is basic and the simplest joint you can make. A butt joint is simply two different pieces of wood sitting side by side. The butt of the workpiece is adjacent to the butt of another workpiece.

This specific wood joint requires mechanical fasteners to fasten each other by bolts, screws, and fasteners. If you apply enough force, this joint is weak and can easily be separated with bare hands. However, this wood joinery is a quick option to speed up construction work. 

The butt joint is not recommended when building big projects requiring considerable tensile strength.

Uses

#2: Miter Butt Joint

A miter joint is similar to a butt wood joint. One main difference is that the mitered butt joint has boards that are joined at an angle. A miter joint can be done by cutting wood pieces accurately at a 45-degree angle. 

mitered butt joint

A mitered butt joint is not visible on any end grain. It creates a seamless joint and effectively hides the end grains. The miter joint results in a beautiful finish. However, miter joints are not that strong.

Uses

#3: Half-Lap Joint

Lap joints are another popular method of joining wood. Half-lap joints, in particular, are made when a material is removed from both pieces to obtain joint thickness. The use of this wood joint creates a flush surface with one another.

A half-joint weakens the strength of these adjoining boards. A half-lap joint [1] can withstand shear forces. A half-lap joint is stronger than the butt, mortise, and tenon joints.

cross-lap joint

Cross-Lap Joint

Once the joint forms in the middle of two boards, this is called a cross-lap joint.

Uses

#4: Coped Joint

A coped joint begins with a moldering piece cut square and butted into the wall corner. This moldering mating piece is cut and patterned to the first piece. The second piece is butt into the first piece. 

Using a coped joint or coping is a traditional method for baseboard joinery. This joinery requires more practice and skill. Thus, it is considered a mark of craftsmanship and is often preferred when working with historical or period moldings. 

Uses

#5: Tongue and Groove Join

Tongue and groove joints are unique in joining identical wood pieces together. It is accomplished when you join edge to edge with two or more pieces of timber. 

Tongue and Groove Joint

The tongue and groove joint also has a mobile slot that can move along the length of the timber. The tongue and groove joint is then held together with fasteners. 

Uses

#6: Mortise and Tenon Joint

The mortise and tenon joint is a classic and considered among the most effective and durable types of wood joints. It is considered one of the oldest joints known to man. This is the go-to joint when you need a strong, reliable, and elegant joint for wood assembly.

It makes use of two pieces of wood that are connected at a right angle. It is one of the basic and easy-to-make techniques and can create one of the strongest types of holds for woodworking projects.

This joint requires cutting precision of square or rectangular hole in a piece of wood and tenon to fit squarely into the mortise. 

Mortise and Tenon Joint

Uses

#7: Biscuit Joint

Biscuit joints utilize a small disc to connect two pieces of wood. The disc on a biscuit joint is made from a compressed particle board and can be made of anything. The biscuits are more often than not constructed with a special saw.

Artisans utilize a biscuit wood joint to create a stronger version of the butt joint. Both ends of the timber get a slot cut to hold a small wafer. The disc, as mentioned earlier, goes into the two pieces of wood. Once the glue gets added to the insert, it starts swelling, filling the carved area. 

Uses

#8: Pocket Hole Joint

A pocket hole joint resulted from a basic butt joint fastened at a 15-degree angle using screws. Woodworkers are required to drill a pilot hole in between the two boards. The two pieces of a pocket joint are connected with a screw resulting in a flat and durable surface.

pocket hole joint

Since a hole must be pre-drilled in pocket joints, measurement accuracy is required. One way to accurately measure the hole is by utilizing a pocket-hole jig to drill holes. 

Uses

#9: Dado Joint

The dado joint is a very common wood joint. This particular joint is comprised of a three-sided channel cut across the grain of a workpiece. The dado joint has a groove cut wide enough to accept the thickness of the mating piece completing the joint. 

It is also considered the strongest joint, called a housing joint or tench joint. Similar to a tongue and groove joinery, a dado joint is used to connect plywood. A lot of artisans use this wood type when building cabinetry.

dado joint

Uses

#10: Rabbet Joint

A rabbet wood joint creates a flush end rather than a secure joint. This wood joint significantly reduces the end grain visible on the wood. Rabbet joints create a flat end.

A rabbet joint is not a strong joint alone and thus is often paired with another wood joint. Furthermore, an adhesive is needed for this joint to work. 

Uses

#11: Through Dovetail Joint

One of the most unique variations of the dovetail joint is the through dovetail joint. A through dovetail joint allows strength and class to any wood piece, through there are different methods to do it.

Through Dovetail Joint

Uses

#12: Half-Blind Dovetail Joint

A half-blind dovetail joint design creates a trapezoid design for the pins that fit at the end of the timber. This eliminates the presence of the connection on the front piece. 

This type of wood joint requires a skilled woodworker. Once you have successfully made one, you get a durable joint that is beautiful and worth the extra mile. 

Uses

#13: Sliding Dovetail Joint

Another variation to the dovetail wood joint, which is highly versatile, is the sliding dovetail joint. This wood joint works on the design of a tongue and groove with the dovetail technique.

Sliding Dovetail Joint

Uses

#14: Box Joint

Box joints are created by cutting a set of sheets or profiles of wood into two pieces. The resulting sheets are attached perpendicularly with an adhesive. The glued area has a high surface area that creates a strong and fortified bond resulting in a solid corner.

A box joint is used as an alternative to dovetail joints. It is used for joining corners of boxes. It is simple, strong, effective, and works best on hardwood that requires complex machining.  

Uses

#15: Dowel Joint

Dowel joints are known to be very strong and attractive joints. It is a common joint used in factory-made furniture pieces since it is easy to make using production line machinery.

Dowel Joint

Dowel joints are secured with an adhesive material and a small piece of dowel. A dowel is a small cylindrical rod made from wood, plastic, or metal. The dowel pin is butted on another wood piece to create a strong joint.

The resulting dowel joint is strong and has a well-constructed appearance. A dowel center is used to ensure the accurate alignment of pins when making this joint.

Uses

#16: Bridle Joint

Another traditional way of joining wood pieces si the bridle joint. It is distinguished from the mortise and tenon by cutting the mortise and tenon members to the full width of the tenon in the bridle joint. Furthermore, it is done when joining rails with upright fixtures like table legs.

It is also called other names are known as fork joint, open tenon, tongue joint, open mortise, and tenon. 

bridle joint

Uses

#17: Finger Joint

Finger joints are used when two pieces of wood are connected to make a board longer. Increasing the length of a joint involves a greater surface area and an increased amount of glue between wood pieces. A finger joint is also known as a comb joint.

To achieve a finger joint, fingers should be cut like a box joint but deeper. Cut a set of complementary and interlocking profiles, like fingers, into the wood pieces. Lay the two pieces of wood and assemble them with a thin layer of wood glue in between the fingers.

Uses

#18: Birdsmouth

A birdsmouth joint is a small triangular-shaped cut out at the base of a roofing joist. This allows the joint to fit perfectly on top of the wall plate. This joint is used to connect the rafter of the roof to the top plate joiner supporting the wall. 

Birdsmouth joint

A bird’s beak cut or bird’s beak joint is also called a bird’s beak joint. It is called a birdsmouth since it looks like a birdsmouth when viewed from the side.

Uses

FAQ

What wood joint is the strongest?

The wood joint that is the strongest would be the mortise and tenon wood joint. This wood joint can hold without an adhesive.

What is the most common wood joint?

The most common wood joint is the butt joint. A wood joint is relatively simple to make. 

What is the easiest type of joint to perform?

The easiest type of joint to perform is the butt joint. Butt joints are simple to make and are also known as the weakest. 

What is the weakest wood joint type?

The weakest wood joint type is the butt joint. Butt joints rely on adhesives in the form of metal fasteners like nails or classic glue. Thus, this wood joint can only be used on simple projects. 

How many are the existing wood joint types?

Currently, there are over a dozen types of existing wood joint types today. However, only half of them are often used. Other wood joints are customized to tailor-fit certain wood projects. 

Conclusion

It takes a certain level of skill to achieve decent wood joinery technique, resulting in solid and beautiful woodworking joints. Taking into consideration the strength and beauty of each one, choosing the appropriate wood joint is necessary to complete a woodwork project. 

We hope that the different types of wood joints discussed in the article helped you choose the perfect one for your style and project.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson

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