Boards can be joined in three different ways:
• Fitting joins the mating surfaces of the parts with
no gaps or openings. The boards are cut to fit one
another. These cuts can be as simple as those in a butt
joint or as intricate as the tails and pins of a dovetail
• Gluing bonds two boards with a chemical
adhesive, such as animal hide glue, aliphatic resin
(yellow) glue, or epoxy
• Fastening secures one board to another with
wood or metal fasteners, such as pegs, nails, and
To make most wood joints, you must combine two
or more of these basic operations. For example, you
might fit a simple butt joint and reinforce it with
nails. Dovetail joints are typically fitted and glued.
And a few joints, such as a pegged mortise and tenon,
combine all three activities- fitting, gluing, and fastening.
(SEE FIGURE 1-1.)
FOUR WAYS TO FIT
Of these three operations, however, fitting is the
most essentiaL You can join wood without glue or
nails, but not without fitting. Even a simple butt joint
requires that you cut one board to fit flush against the
surface of another. Gluing and fastening are important
- and I’ll refer to them from time to time- but fitting
is the essence of joinery. Most of this text focuses
on how to fit four basic types of joints (SEE FIGURE 1-2):
• Simple joints, such as dadoes and rabbets, require
only a few simple cuts to assemble two parts.
• Reinforced joints use a secondary piece of wood,
such as a dowel or spline, to strengthen the joint
between two or more principal parts.
• Mortise-and-tenon joints have one pan that is
bored or recessed to hold a second part, and are
mostly used to join the parts of a frame.
• Interlockingjoints use multiple cuts to increase
the adjoining surface area, and usually join the parts
of a box.
1-1 Most woodworking joints
combine two joining operations –
either fitting and fastening, as with
the nailed butt joint (l), or fitting
and gluing, as with the dovetail joint
(2). Some combine all three, such as
the pegged mortise-and-tenon joint
(3)- it’s fined, fastened , and glued.
Note that all of these joints require
some degree of fitting. just as joinery
is the heart of woodworking, fitting
is the heart of joinery.
1-2 Although there are hundreds
of fitted joints, they can all be organized
into four categories –
simple joints (1) such as the rabbetand-
dado joint, reinforced joints (2)
such as the dowel joint, mortise-andtenon
joints (3) such as the haunched
mortise and tenon, and interlocking
joints ( 4) such as the through-dovetail