Types of Wood Joinery

Learning and Mastering the Various Methods for Connecting Wood

types of wood joinery

Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Wood joinery is one of the most basic concepts in woodworking. If we didn't have the ability to join two pieces of wood together in a solid fashion, all woodworking pieces would be sculptures, carved out of a single piece of wood. However, with the many varied types of wood joinery, a woodworker has a number of different joints in his arsenal from which to choose, based on the project. If you master these wood joinery concepts, you'll be well on your way to becoming a very accomplished woodworker.

  • 01 of 13

    Basic Butt Joint

    Butt Joint
    Butt Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    There is no more basic wood joinery than the butt joint. A butt joint is nothing more than when one piece of wood butts into another (most often at a right angle, or square to the other board) and is fastened using mechanical fasteners. This type of joint is often used in wall framing on construction sites. Learn tips for using a butt joint, as well as when to choose another wood joinery type.

  • 02 of 13

    Mitered Butt Joint

    Mitered Butt Joint
    Mitered Butt Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    A mitered butt joint is nearly the same as a basic butt joint, except that the two boards are joined at an angle (instead of square to one another). The advantage is that the mitered butt joint will not show any end grain, and as such is a bit more aesthetically pleasing. However, the mitered butt joint isn't all that strong. 

  • 03 of 13

    Half-Lap Joint

    Half-Lap Joint
    Half-Lap Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The half-lap joint is where half of each of the two boards being joined is removed so that the two boards join together flush with one another. This type of wood joinery can obviously weaken the strength of the two adjoining boards, but also is a stronger joint than butt joints. There are a number of projects where this type of wood joint is quite desirable, in spite of its drawbacks.

  • 04 of 13

    Tongue and Groove Joint

    Tongue and Groove Joint
    Tongue and Groove Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    When joining two boards square to one another along a long edge, one can simply butt the joint together and hold it with fasteners. However, the tongue and groove joint is much stronger and provides more adjoining surface areas, which is particularly useful if you're going to glue the joint.

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  • 05 of 13

    Mortise and Tenon Joint

    Mortise and Tenon Joint
    Wikimedia Commons

    The mortise and tenon is a classic wood joinery method. These joints have been used since the early times of woodworking, and are still among the strongest and most elegant methods for joining wood. Learn methods for creating tight, beautiful mortise and tenon joints.

  • 06 of 13

    Biscuit Joint

    Biscuit Joint

    Another method for joining boards along the edges (like the tongue and groove joint) is to cut slots and use beechwood wafers (known as a biscuit) to hold the boards in place. This is a very useful modern woodworking joint, particularly for creating table tops, relying on glue and the swelling of the beechwood biscuit to hold the boards in place. Learn how to cut consistent slots and get reliable results from biscuit joinery.

  • 07 of 13

    Pocket Joint

    Pocket Joint
    Pocket Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The Pocket Joint is a type of wood joinery that involves cutting a slot and pre-drilling a pilot hole at an angle between two boards before connecting the two with a screw. This pre-drilling needs to be very accurate, so it is typically accomplished by use of a commercial jig. Pocket joints work great for cabinet face frames and other similar applications where a lot of strength is not needed. Learn the steps to creating pocket joints in your woodworking projects.

  • 08 of 13


    Dado Joint
    Wikimedia Commons

    A dado is nothing more than a square-grooved slot on one board where another board will fit. Similar to tongue and groove joinery, this is a commonly-used wood joint for connecting plywood, such as building cabinetry. Learn how to properly cut a dado, and when to use one.

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  • 09 of 13


    Rabbet. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Another common wood joint used in cabinetry is the rabbet. A rabbet is essentially a dado cut along the edge of a board. Rabbets are often used at the back of cabinets and other similar assemblies for attaching the back to the sides of the box, adding a considerable amount of strength to the assembly. Learn how to cut clean rabbets and when to use them.

  • 10 of 13

    Through Dovetail Joint

    Dovetail Joint
    Dovetail Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Of all wood joinery methods, the through dovetail may be the most revered. A classic through dovetail is beautiful and very strong and adds a touch of class to any piece. There are a few methods for creating through dovetails, from hand cutting to machining with a jig. Learn the keys to a quality through dovetail joint and how to create them.

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    Half-Blind Dovetail Joint

    Half-Blind Dovetail
    Half-Blind Dovetail. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    There are situations where a dovetail joint is the connection of choice, but both edges of the dovetails should not be visible. A perfect example is a drawer front, where you don't want to see the end of the through dovetail on the face of the drawer. For this type of joint, the best choice is a half-blind dovetail. Learn how to build a clean, strong and beautiful half-blind dovetail joint and when to use this type of wood joinery.

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    Sliding Dovetail

    Sliding Dovetail Joint
    Sliding Dovetail Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    A sliding dovetail is a versatile joint with a lot of possible uses. A good way to think of it is as a locking dado. Learn the keys to building a clean sliding dovetail joint, and when to use one.

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  • 13 of 13

    Box Joint

    Box Joint
    Box Joint. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Dovetail joints are beautiful and strong, but not always practical. A box joint is a simpler alternative to the dovetail joint. Learn how to build consistent and strong box joints in your woodworking projects.