This page contains pictures and descriptions of the most common carpentry and wood joinery techniques used to build everything from walls to furniture. These techniques are often used in combination to join different parts of a project.
Two pieces of wood are cut square and glued or nailed end to face. This is the simplest and weakest of wood joints, wherever possible reinforce with screws or nails when using this technique. Best suited for rough construction projects such as a wall frame where a stud is butted to the top and soleplates.
Two pieces of wood to be joined are each cut with a matching bevel and miter angle. With this technique the wood is cut in two directions at once to join trim pieces such as with crown molding or when making picture frames and shadow boxes. See the Compound Miter Saw Guide for more about this type of joint.
A groove cut in a board, usually half way through, to accept another board that fits snuggly into the groove. This technique is used in furniture making often for internal, support members to keep the piece stable when stressed during use.
Two pieces of wood to be joined are each cut with a matching mortise or tenon. One side of the joint is cut with dovetail shaped tenons and the other is cut with dovetail shaped mortises into which the tenons fit. Router jigs are available for making these cuts or they can be cut by hand.
This is the same as the simple butt joint above with the addition of a triangle block glued to the inside to reinforce it. This technique is used frequently for table tops and chair seats when building furniture to keep those joints square while under stress from use.
A simple form of this technique is a face to face union of two pieces of lumber. Alternately, both pieces to be joined can be cut to form a notched-lap joint. The end of each piece of wood is cut to remove half its thickness, creating two matching rabbets. the two pieces are glued and joined by overlapping the two rabbets. The two surfaces can be glued and then screwed together, or simply clamped until the glue dries.
Two pieces of wood to be joined are each cut at a matching angle, for example, two 45° angles are joined to create a 90° union for building a frame or box. To join two boards at any angle divide it by 2, for example, to joint boards at an angle of 140° cut each at 70°
Used in finer furniture and cabinet construction when joining rails and stiles. The end of one board: the rail, is cut to form a square peg, or tenon on the end. The other piece, the stile: is cut with a square hole, or mortise, the same size as the tenon. A mortise and tenon joint is used to build many furniture pieces, raised-panel doors, frames for cabinet faces and more. A biscuit joiner makes a quick mortise and tenon although not a top quality one.
This is a technique for making a modified butt joint with a notch cut in the end of one board that will accept another board. This improves the strength of the union by increasing the surface area that makes contact between the two pieces. This joint can be glued and clamped, or screws can be added for more strength.