Woodshop 101: Different Joints and How to Use Them

Woodshop 101: Different Joints and How to Use Them

There are various joints that woodworkers use for each project. Some are more aesthetically pleasing, but others have a stronger hold, while others feature both strength and aesthetics. Here are 6 popular joints that can be utilized in your upcoming projects:


Butt Joint

The most basic of joints, the butt joint is just two pieces of wood butting into the other at a right angle, fixed together with nails or screws. Butt joints are ideal when speed is more important than aesthetics and are often used in wall framing or installing trim and baseboard. They are not strong joints as they have no structural integrity of their own, with no locking elements, and require external support from nails, screws and wood glue.


Mitered Butt Joint

Similar to the standard Butt Joint, Mitered Butt Joints are two pieces of wood butting in together but at an angle. Unlike Butt Joints, Mitered Butt Joints show no end grain and are the more attractive option between the two joint types. Its structural integrity is dependent on the wood glue that holds it together, making it a weaker joint. Miter Butt Joints are most often seen with picture frames and occasional doorway and window trim.


Lap Joint

The Lap Joint is simply two boards of wood overlapping. There are two types of Lap Joints: the Full Joint and the Notched Lap joint. Full Lap Joints are when a board overlaps another and is fastened with nails or screws-think structural framing and fencing. Notched Lap Joints are two boards overlapped, with each piece being notched and fitted together on the notch sections. This aids in additional strength to the joint.


Mortise and Tenon Joints

The Mortise and Tenon Joint is a popular joint due to being one of the strongest. With the Mortise and Tenon Joint, one end piece is inserted into a hole of the other piece; the first piece called the “Tenon” and the second, with the hole, called the “Mortise.” This joint is popular with furniture making as it is perfect for adjoining furniture legs. For further hold, wood glue is an ideal addition for this joint.


Dovetail Joint

The Dovetail Joint is a popular joint due to its strength and aesthetics. Dovetail Joints are when two pieces of wood at a 90 degree angle wedge together; the trapezoidal wedge shapes being reminiscent of a dove’s tail. While it can be a challenge to fit this joint, even a less than perfect Dovetail Joint can have a strong hold and require no wood glue, nails or screws. The Dovetail Joint is often used for boxes, drawers and cabinets and the joint itself can be a decorative feature of the piece.


Box Joint

A similar but more practical alternative to the Dovetail Joint is the Box Joint. Instead of the trapezoidal wedge shapes that Dovetail Joints feature, the Box Joint hosts square pins that interlock with those on the conjoining board. Box Joints, when used with wood glue, create a strong bond between boards. Similarly to the Dovetail Joint, Box Joints are used for boxes, drawers and cabinets.


Are there any tips or tricks you've picked up on around the shop that you would like to share with our growing community of woodworkers? If so, email us at marketing@forest2home.com. Happy woodworking!

1 comment

  • Cynthia Schaefer

    I would LOVE to have these books but I don’t have the money to purchase them. Would they be in a library? I have ordered books from Walmart on refinishing furniture and making lawn furniture BUT they’re on a wait list AS I CAN PAY FOR THEM. I’m also looking to get Certified in refinishing (and making) if possible. – PROBLEM- I’m not a fast learner. Cleaners/substitute teachers don’t earn much at daycare ministries. My Mom taught me how to refinish furniture beautifully but she’s not known.

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