Shelving: How to Make a Butt Joint


A butt joint is a simple and clean method of joining two pieces of wood in joinery. The joint can be made invisible as well. The butt joints mostly get the strength from the glue. The glue applied on the end grains may not give it enough strength, however. The joint can be strengthened with nails, screws, skew nailing or by installing dowels. The dowel-reinforced butt joints are very common in both framing and carcass construction. Dowel joints are also popular in making chairs, cabinets, wood panels and tabletops.

Material and Tools

  • Boards I/4 inch thick
  • Table saw
  • Glue
  • Brush
  • Clamps
  • Screws
  • Dowel pins

Step 1: Preparing the Planks

Cut two pieces of board 4 inches by 4 inches on a table saw.

Step 2: Joining to Make a Butt Joint

Apply glue to the end grain face of the one plank. Place it at a right angle to the edge of other plank in order to join it at 90 degrees with the other plank. Confirm they are square using a T-square. Clamp them together using vice clamps. Drill holes through one plank into the glued end of the other piece and fix them with two screws. You can remove the clamps and allow the glue to set. The butt joint is done.

Step 3: Making a Dowel-Reinforced Butt Joint

Cut two wood planks as above. Drill two accurate blind holes in the mating surfaces of the planks to be joined with a butt joint using a dowelling jig to match the dowels to be used.

The drilled holes will correspond to the holes in both the members into which dowels are to be inserted with some glue. Apply the glue and fix the dowel to join the both planks. Clamp them and let the glue dry.