7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

25 Nov 2022 by Whittle Waxes

Whether you’re a professional woodworker, a hobbyist, or you’re interested in learning about the different types of woodworking joints so you can work on a DIY project at home, the more you understand about wood joinery, the better.

Each joint has its own specific strengths and advantages. When you are well-versed in woodworking joints, you’ll have a clear idea of which joints are best suited for the project you’re working on.

What is wood joinery?

In woodworking, to connect one piece of wood with another, you’ll use a joint. Some joints are basic connections that even a beginner can use. Others involve interlocking slots and are a little more difficult to work with, let alone to create.

How are wood joints held together?

You can connect the joinery with wood glue, brackets and screws, nails, dowels or staples. Keep in mind, the stronger the external connective force, the stronger the hold. So, if the type of joinery you’re using isn’t that stable, be sure to use a high-quality wood glue or connect the joinery with nails and brackets when possible.

What is the strongest woodworking joint?

For excellent stability, the mortise and tenon joint is a great choice. It’s a relatively simple joint, yet it holds well. Woodworkers have been using it for generations because of its strength, versatility and simple design.

Which type of wood joinery should you use?

Here’s a look at the most widely used joints you’ll find in woodworking and why you may want to use them.

Butt joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

The butt joint is the easiest type to make, but it’s also one of the weakest. It’s a simple wood joint that anyone can use, and you’ll find it in a variety of woodworking projects including furniture and raised garden beds.

To make a butt joint, fasten the end grain of one piece of wood with the long grain of another at a right angle, lining up the wood evenly. You can glue the pieces together and then reinforce the joint with screws or nails. Hammer your nails into the face of one board so they drive through the grain of the other.

Butt joints also work well with dowels – drill the corresponding holes into the wood pieces using a dowel jig and insert the dowels with glue.

Mitred butt joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

Instead of connecting two boards at a 90-degree angle, with a mitred butt joint, one or both ends are mitred to a 45-degree angle, creating an angled corner. You can then fasten the boards together with nails or screws. You'll find this type of joinery used with exposed beams.

Dado joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

With this type of joinery, there’s a single slot cut into the surface of one piece of wood so the other piece will fit perfectly within the slot. If you’re cutting the slot, cut it perpendicular to the wood grain. The dado slot can either travel all the way to the other end of the wood board or it can stop before the edge.

Dado joints are often used for bookcases, cabinets or dressers. You’d use the dado joint where the back and the side of the bookcase or other piece of furniture connects.

Mortise and tenon joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

This is one of the most traditional types of woodworking joints. It involves a mortise, which is a rectangular or square-shaped hole or cavity carved into the side of one board, and a tenon. The tenon is a protruding piece on the other board, which is the same size as the mortise.

Generally, the tenon should be about one-third the thickness of the piece of wood. Whilst you’ll need to make sure the mortise and tenon are the right size to create a perfect fit, this type of woodworking joinery looks elegant once it’s in place because you don’t need to use any nails or screws.

Half lap joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

With a half lap wood joint, half of the thickness of each piece of wood is removed. When you fasten the boards with glue, they should fit together seamlessly just as a puzzle piece wood. This is a great joint to use when the wood pieces you’re using have the same thickness. Lap joint uses include building storage furniture or desks.

You can also use variations of the lap joint.

  • Mitred lap - You can create mitred edges (45-degree angled) on both pieces of wood for a mitred half lap joint. Whilst useful for creating corners, this is the weakest lap joint.
  • Cross lap - If you create the joint in the middle of one or both pieces of wood, you have a cross lap joint, which can be used for internal cabinet frames.
  • Dovetail crossed lap - In this case, you can cut the connecting stem piece and the housing slot with two angled-edges, so you’re creating a trapezoid shape. As a result, it’s harder to pull the stem from housing, which achieves a stronger hold.

Dovetail joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

The dovetail joint is often used in advanced woodworking projects because of its inherent strength and aesthetic advantages. With this type of joinery, notches are created to fit the boards together. When it’s done, it looks like the wood tails and pins are interwoven together.

You can use this woodworking joint for wooden boxes and drawers. You’ll only need glue to bond the pieces together tightly because the joint itself is so stable.

Tongue and groove joint

7 Types of Woodworking Joints to Use on Your Next Project

With this type of joint, the edge of one board has a grooved notch that extends beyond the edge of the board. Then the edge of the joining board has an extended thin tongue that will fit within the groove of the housing board. Once the boards are laid together, they lock into place. This type of joint is often used for laying floating timber flooring or laminate floors.

How to get the best results from your woodworking project

Working with different woodworking joints can seem overwhelming at first, but as you start trying out different joinery types, you’ll get a better grasp for how each joint performs. And, it’s a lot of fun.

Once you pour your time and hard work into a project, you’ll want to protect the finished product. Whether you’re creating wooden cabinets, toys, furniture, decking or any other wood projects, you can preserve the wood for years with food-safe, toy-safe, and pet-safe hardwax oils from Whittle Waxes.

Made from a blend of sustainable natural ingredients, hardwax oils can enhance the aesthetic of your woodworking whilst protecting the wood from stains, warping and scratches. Browse Whittle Waxes Hardwax Oils range to learn more.

Whittle Waxes
Whittle Waxes
Established in 2004, Whittle Waxes is among the first Australian companies to promote premium natural oils and waxes for the protection and enhancement of all timber surfaces.Our Story17 years and going strong.Although Whittle Waxes officially launched in Australia in 2004, our journey (and love affair) with timber started a long time before that. Company founder, Giles Whittle-Herbert, grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, where he inherited a passion for working with wood that goes back in his family for many generations. It is perhaps no big surprise then that he went on to run a successful carpentry business in Victoria Falls, producing a range of quality furniture, as well as stairs, flooring, doors and window frames – and even fitting out one of Southern Africa’s most prestigious trains.In early 2000 (with the Zimbabwean economy now in freefall), Giles and his family (including wife, Caroline, and two daughters, Ashley and Sarah) moved to the UK, where he started a small flooring business. Over the next few years, he restored many beautiful old floors (some of them over 400 years old!), as well as laying and finishing contemporary, bespoke flooring. Whether old or new, getting the finish right was vital and it was during this time that he learnt a lot about hardwax oils, which quickly became his preferred finish.When Giles and his family arrived in Australia in 2004, it didn’t take him long to notice a big gap in the market for natural and safe hardwax oils. He already had an excellent working relationship with his supplier in the UK, so the job now was to draw the Australian market’s attention to the many benefits of hardwax oils.17 years later, Whittle Waxes is proud to be leading the way in the supply of natural, high quality finishes to the Australian market, with satisfied customers across the board that include home renovators, professional polishers, flooring suppliers, timber companies, architects and designers. As the product evolves, it continues to exceed expectations and is now a firm favourite all across Australia, particularly with anyone who appreciates a quality finish that is safe, durable and environmentally friendly.At Whittle Waxes, we genuinely love it when our customers are blown away by our products. We will continue to supply quality products to the market, including exciting new products now available abroad. We are also working hard behind the scenes to improve our operations and efficiency, including the development of new offices and a showroom in Lake Macdonald on the Sunshine Coast. The future is looking bright! Thank you for being part of this journey. Please watch this space for any new developments and be sure to shout out if we can help with anything.Giles & Caroline Whittle-Herbert 


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