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Picture of Joinery Basics
The best way to hold together a high-end woodworking projects, whether you're building a timber-frame home, putting together a trestle table or making a step stool, is with a bit of glue and hand cut joints.

It is easier to use mechanical fasteners, like nails and screws, but to add that look of first-class work, with smooth, metal free visible areas, nothing will do the job like a direct joint between parts, bonded with glue. Of course, the type of joint you need depends on a variety of factors, like the nature of the materials, the function of the joint, strength and appearance, available equipment, and your own level of skill. Joinery may be intimidating to the beginner, but, like any other building skill, all it takes is a bit of practice.

Here we dissect the workings of two primary joints, the edge joint and the mortise and tenon. WIth these joints, you can build a wide array of furniture and tackle a number of woodworking projects without having to rely on unsightly (although time-saving) nails and screws.
 
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Step 1: Edge Joints

Picture of Edge Joints
The first requirement of a good edge joint is that the two mating surfaces must fit together perfectly with no discernible gaps. Second, the mating surfaces must be either on the edge or the surface of a board. End grain is not a candidate for edge joining because of its open cellular structure. When glue is applied to these cells, they act like straws, pulling the glue deep into the wood instead of leaving it near the surface where the bond takes place. When end grain must be joined to edge or face grain, the joint of choice is the mortise and tenon.

For edge joining, the mating surfaces must be flat and square to both faces of the board. To achieve this, first scribe a straight reference line on one surface, using a long straightedge. Then clamp this board to the side of your worktable and use a bench plane to flatten the edge. Check your progress relative to your reference line frequently. And check for square frequently with a combination square.

Once you'e satisfied with the edge on the first board, repeat the same process on the mating board. When you've flattened this edge, lay the two boards together on a flat surface and check for fit. Usually some additional work will be required to get a perfect joint. When you've achieved it, just spread glue on both mating edges.
Nice
drumchucker3 years ago
I think using dado blades on the table saw is preferable.
johnnynell6 years ago
new to woodworking and alibre. having problems making angle cuts in wood. Am designing a gazebo. Anyone got direction on angle cuts?????
Buy yourself a bevel gauge this will enable you to make exact angle marks that you can then follow with your handsaw or whatever else you will be using. They are usually pretty cheap or at the end of the day they are pretty easy to make using a good bit of hardwood and a steel rule or something similar. other than that you can often pick up compound mitre saws pretty cheap these days (have seen them as cheap as 30 dollars australin new) and although it may be worth the extra for a better one, most of these will cut up to about 6 x2 no worrys. either that or a combination of a bevel guage and a handheld circular saw. my brother and I made some major extensions on his house with a hammer, a tape measure a circ saw and a couple of saw horses, oh and almost forgot a pencil and a ruler. These modifications included a major reworking of the roofline and getting all of the angles to match the 100 plus year old carpentry which we found was a fair bit off square, So I am sure that you can work out a gazebo.
What is that tool you are using in that picture?
it's a scribe. it marks at a fixed distance. here's how to make one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAB8cX_qiVA
...or you can just use an adjustable square ("combination square"?) and mark each end of the line
koekkoek5 years ago
Same question as above
koekkoek5 years ago
So what kind of clamps would you use?
Question for you, I was thinking of making a bench, and I saw an instructable about nomad furniture. In that instructable was a bench that had a setup like the picture I attached (hope it makes sense, I drew it in MS Paint). Is this type of joinery stable enough to prevent side to side rocking? I would like to re-create the bench from the nomad instructable but I question the strength of that joint.
mortise-tenon-question.gif
Wow, that is a well-made, detailed MS paint drawing. Kudos. In regards to your question, remember that wood shrinks as it dries, which will have a tendency to loosen your joint to an unacceptable level over time. If you have wood which has been "weathering" (code for sitting on your porch, pissing off everyone else who lives in your house) for a year and a half or more, it has probably shrunk all it wants to in your climate. Using that, these can be very stable joints. If your first try is not stable enough, make everything beefier, especially the wedge, and it'll stiffen up.
DarkNinja,
Not to step on anyones toes, but
the answer is a conditional yes.
Take into acount the load you want to put on your structure and balance that agaisnt the type of joint your able to make.
The following is a link to a bed design with your suggested joinery:
http://www.medievalwood.org/charles/bed.html

I hope this helps.
(and no the link is not my work :) I only wish.)
webman38025 years ago
Very nice, step-by-step procedure. One thing I'd add is to make sure when gluing to clean up any excess glue with a damp cloth or paper towel before it dries. Sometimes even sanding the seam can show where the glue dried when you stain or finish.
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
Would love to see you add this to my new group.
Hope to see you there.
Home Repair, Refurbishment, and New Projects
Sharad6 years ago
Joinery Basic was another very valuable lesson for doing a perfect job. How much does a dowelling jig cost? Is it essential? What type of glue is used for such joints? Sharad
jtobako7 years ago
Is there a good source of moving joints for woodworking? Something beyond a simple hinge made of wood?
unjust jtobako7 years ago
what are you looking for?
jtobako unjust7 years ago
Something more than two holes and a peg for toys, specifically doll joints. I'd like to find something that can mimic a ball joint (shoulder and hip) in a single joint. What I have now is a bit complicated, there are two pegs that rotate in holes (inside the chest/groin and upper arm/leg) held in by a peg riding in a grove with a simple hinge in between.
shoulder joint.jpeg
I just happened to notice your question which is simple in a way if you can picture out how planet moves in a planetarium but not with those dolls. I have attach a simple solution for you. just open it. Just let me know if its okey. Woodworking is only my past time hobby during weekend.
Thanks, I've tried something similar (based on automotive universal joints) but it doesn't work very well in the limited space and material (wood). The third range of motion (up-down, forward-back and rotation) makes the geometry of the supports and angles that they work at act kind of...lumpy?...and very thin. Right now, I'm looking at the asian ball jointed dolls-the joints are tubes with balls in between held together with elastic (springs, rubber bands, ect). Still looking for an easy way to form the parts, though : )
unjust jtobako7 years ago
well, i've seen ball joints in wood, and using a lathe you can "pop" in a ball to a smaller socket. there's a type of japanese dolls that are locked into tidied up logs like this, a regional subset of the popular kokeshi. as far as your picture, it should be reasonably painless to construct that, although it'd be more delicate. www.noramcneil.com/subpage25.html discusses historical wooden ball joints for that purpose. from memory, i had a phinoccio (sp?) as a kid that used a metal pin traveling in a groove in a wooden ball to give elbow motion. i'll see if it's still sitting around when i'm home this weekend.
jtobako unjust7 years ago
My dad had a lathe (I don't right now), but how would that work? Are there more key words (like what region) for the kokeshi dolls that I could use to find out about them? I've been to that site, not as much info as www.lotzdollpages.com.
unjust jtobako7 years ago
i couldn't find the phinocchoio, but the dolls work by having... hmmm... ok, so you've got a socket which is ~ a sphere that will be marginally larger than the sphere of the ball, but with an opening smaller than the diameter of the ball to retain it. the ball will have an attachment point ~ in line (at neutral position) with the side of the socket opposite the opening forming ~ your z axis, which can be rotated around. (also the axis of the lathe as you turn the 2 parts) make your socket opening a few mm smaller than the dia of the ball. place the socket in the lathe and press fit the ball into it. bring the lathe up to speed, and with a non marring hammer bonk the ball reasonably hard, and it'll just pop in. keep in mind that these were origionally made with foot turned lathes, so we're not talking high speeds. i'll see if my mother recalls where we got those specific dolls, and maybe get a shot of one up if you can wait a week or two til i get back home with a digicam.
jtobako unjust7 years ago
Do you need to split the opening like a Lego ball joint or does the wood have enough 'give'? I can wait for the pictures. I've been looking for a couple of years, a few weeks isn't going to be a problem!
wiseowl7 years ago
Where can I buy a small dowel jig like the one shown here, picture 14 of Joinery basic. I live in the Philippines and things like this are hard to come by. An address or site name would be very welcome
Visitor7 years ago
It is nice that you choose to advertise here, but please respect your audience. Split this to separate instructables, one for each joinery type, and put proper sized images. Right now you are insulting the people who do higher quality instructables with no intention to gain profit from them.
jhawks_rock7 years ago
An alternative method for joinery is biscuit joinery. Overall, it is far less time-consuming and the learning curve is not as steep as mortise and tenon. The joints are as strong as mortise and tenon and stronger than dowel. The biscuits help in aligning faces (as pictured in step 5) and are much faster than creating the mortise and tenon. Below are a couple of links to get people started on what biscuit joinery is and reviews of particular tools. One drawback is that you have to invest in a biscuit cutter. These tools generally run ~$100 for a decent brand and are well worth the investment.

http://woodworking.about.com/od/toolsequipment/p/plateJoiner.htm
http://www.plansnow.com/reviewjointer.html
ckthorp7 years ago
For most people, I'd recommend skipping the 36" long length of do-it-yourself dowel rod. They sell prepointed, pregroved, precut lengths of dowel rod in little baggies for not very much money.
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