Many people believe that the only way to steadily and permanently join wood is to use screws and nails, however that is not always the case. There are various techniques of wood joinery that do not require the use of screws or nails. These are Dowel Joints, Biscuit Joints, Rabbet Joints, Dado Joints, Tongue and Groove Joints, Mortis and Tenon Joints, Lap Joint, Finger Joint, and Dove Tail Joints. All you need to do to create these types of joints are to cut and shape the ends of wood planks or materials that would fit each other like puzzle pieces.

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Dowel Joints. Sturdy and strong dowel joints are very useful in increasing the overall durability of your woodworking project. They also be combined together with other joinery techniques to strengthen it. One example is combining dowel joints with butt joints to strengthen the latter. The tools that you will need to create dowel joints are a dowel jig, a drill, and some wood glue to secure it.

In order to make dowel joints, you must first calculate the size of the dowel you are going to use. Make sure that the diameter of the dowel and the hole you will create are the same size and only half of the thickness of the wood so that the wood will not break. Once you have drilled a hole not so deep, but just enough to secure the dowels, insert the dowels into the holes made in the lumber, end to end. Lastly, bond the joint with some wood glue, and reinforce temporarily with some clamps.

Biscuit Joints. Biscuit joints are those small semi-circular carvings in the wood that would fit biscuit joiners (flat biscuit-like joiner that looks like a football) used to reinforce butt joints.

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Unlike dowel joints that use two holes on each lumber material in order to keep the wood from rotating, biscuit joints would only need one since its flat, disk-like shape of the biscuit joiner keeps the lumber from rotating.

It is best to use biscuit joints for aligning mating parts, however, these joints should be reinforced or combined with other joint types since biscuit joiners in itself are not as sturdy enough as compared to other joiners.

Rabbet Joints. Rabbet joints are a better alternative to butt joints for building boxes and frames since they are easier to cut offer a more elegant solution in concealing the ends and edges of the back and top panels. Depending upon how the joints arranged, they can conceal most of the grain.

There are different variations of rabbet joints such as the single rabbet joint, the double-rabbet joint, the shiplap joint, the half-lap joint, the mitered rabbet joint, the dovetail rabbet joint, and the Dado-and-Rabbet joint. There are other variations of rabbet joints all over the world, introduced by different cultures.

Dado Joints. These joints are considered as one of the easiest joints to make. Dado joints are usually used for woodworking projects such as shelves and cabinet drawers since it joins horizontal panels or boards to vertical boards through interlocking the panels. This works buy carving horizontal grooves on one side of a vertical panel. The size of the grooves would depend on the thickness of the horizontal panels that would be fit on and glued to the vertical panels.

Tongue and Groove Joint. A tongue and groove joint comprises of two edge patterns on each board with one board having a Tongue, and a Groove on the other wherein the two groove mechanism would be assembled together to form a perfect fit to securely join two boards. This method of joinery is commonly used as a solution to have a more extensive panel with only slender boards on hand. This joining method provides an extra layer of strength and glue area. The cut of the Groove must always be correctly measured with the Tongue to offer a secure fit. The Tongue and Groove Joint is commonly known in paneling and strip flooring, tabletops, and forming doors. If the boards are intended to be colored, the process should be done beforehand; otherwise, a shrinkage might occur.

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Mortise and Tenon Joints. The mortise and tenon joining is the most used or accessible mode of joinery. Its popularity is somewhat attributed to its simplistic methodology and also its secure and robust joinery. It’s also one of the oldest methods of joinery dating back to the Neolithic Age as in the Neolithic Period, man would just punch a hole and fit the joining segment perfectly to join two pieces.  Such a concept would be later developed to what we apply now. The joinery is done by attaching the tenon, which is a tongue cut at the edge, and the mortise, which is a hole cut to perfectly fit the tenon. The mortise would receive the tenon. The mortise should be equipped according to the projection of the tenon for a perfect insertion and fit. Its strength makes it versatile in its application. The method can be often be seen in items of furniture and cabinets due to its durability and simplistic approach.

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Lap Joints. Lap Joinery is the method of joining two pieces by only overlapping one over the other section. It’s a simple process but is quite durable and very versatile in its application. Lap Joints are differentiated into two kinds, being a Full Lap Joint or a Half Lap Joint. In a Half Lap Joint, portions of both pieces are removed for a proportionate fit while also providing a more slender outcome. Full Laps are much thicker than Half Laps as no parts are cut and removed to overlap the two segments of wood. Probably, its main advantage is that the joinery can be achieved by minimal tools. Lap Joints are often used in framing.

Finger Joints. This mode of joinery is done through multiple proportionately sized tenons on one end and another different sized tenon on the other to interlock with each other and to properly secure the two segments. The multiple tenons would look like interlocking hands, which is also the reason for the name as the individual tenons are seen as different fingers.  The interlocking of finger designed tenons has its aesthetic functions. This method of joinery is very versatile in its design aspect as its shape and size and can be catered to the overall look of the final project or design. Due to its aesthetic function, the Finger Joint method is often used in art projects. Finger joints can also be observed in cages or different kinds of specialized boxes such as jewelry boxes or small cabinets usually being made with premium wood material.

Dove-Tail Joints. Dovetail joints are usually used for attaching drawer sides or box sides to drawer fronts or box fronts respectively. The trapezoid or dove-tail shaped teeth of the joints make it harder for the lumber pieces to be detached from each other, however, it takes skill and careful precise cutting and shaping to create these dovetails.

The pins and tails are the two parts of dovetail joints. The tail part of this joint are the ones that look like dovetails while the pins are those carved on the opposite board that attaches to the tail. The two parts of these joints attach like puzzle pieces and make it difficult to pull.

There are many other types of joints that can be created to join two or more pieces of wood together. Innovations come about by combining these types of joints to create many more variations. You can also create your own variation depending on the needs of your woodworking plans.


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