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What is Joinery?

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2011 by

Topic: Joinery, What Is

If you have fine woodwork that needs to be both strong and decorative, a joiner is the professional that you will need. But what exactly is joinery and where is it used?  Read on to find out more.

Definition of Joinery

In its simplest definition, joinery is the method by which two or more pieces of wood are connected. Joinery can involve simple gluing, nailing, or screwing of the two pieces of wood but it can be as complicated as using very intricate joints.  While the primary purpose of joinery is to hold wood together strongly and securely, it can also be a decorative feature of the project in which the joinery is used.

Joinery is an important part of most woodworking and it is found in furniture, cabinetry, windows and doors, flooring, and much more.  It is a specialist area of carpentry and as such, you would get a specialist joiner or cabinetmaker to do the work, rather than a general carpenter.

Common Joints Used in Joinery

There are a number of joints that are commonly used in joinery and these include:
  • Butt Joints – where two pieces of wood are connected by having the square end of one piece of wood placed against the side of the other in order to form a right angle.  Nails, screws or dowels secure the joint.
  • Cross Lapped Joint – in this joint, a rectangular section is taken out of each piece of wood and the wood fits together so that it is flush.  It is a type of interlocking joint.
  • Dado Joint – where two pieces of wood are connected by a groove in one piece of wood that is equal to the width of the second piece. The second piece of wood is inserted into the groove.
  • Dovetail Joint – in this type of join, the two lengths of wood are connected by cutting a piece out of one length of wood and flaring another piece in the second length which fits into the first length of wood.  It can be helpful to think of it like a jigsaw puzzle, where the “out” piece fits into the “in” piece.
  • Doweled Joint – where small holes are cut into each piece of wood and the wood is connected by using small dowels.  Glue is used for extra strength.
  • Mitre Joint – this is where each end of the pieces of wood is cut on a 45 degree angle and the pieces are joined together to form a right angle.  The joint is secured using glue, nails or screws.
  • Mortise and Tenon Joint – in this type of joinery, one piece of wood has a mortise, or a recess cut into it and the other piece has a tenon or carved projection cut into it.  The tenon is fitted into the mortise and they are then secured.
  • Tongue and Groove Joint – in this type of joint, two pieces of wood are joined together by cutting a groove in one piece and an edge on the other.  The edge or tongue fits into the groove securely but nails or glue can be used to strengthen the joint.

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