Rather than using nails or screws, wood joints offer a much more attractive and secure method of joining two pieces of wood together. They’re used in furniture or in fittings found in a home. With furniture, using joints prevents separation of the pieces of wood which is important if the furniture is used regularly. For fine furniture, joints, whether mill-worked or made by hand, give the sense of a more expensive, craftsman-produced piece. There are a number of different common types of joints, each of which has a different purpose. Some are easier to make than others but they all require a good level or carpentry skill.
The simplest joint, and a more attractive and secure alternative to using a screw or a nail to join two pieces of wood, is the half-and-half joint.
With this joint, half the wood on each joined piece is removed (essentially a square or rectangle from each piece of wood). This allows the two pieces to fit snugly together although they will still need to be glued in order to be effectively joined. Half-and-half joints are serviceable but are not considered to be the most effective kind of joint
The dovetail joint is commonly found on fine furniture because it offers a great deal of strength. They’re not easy to cut and require an advanced skill level in carpentry terms, especially where there are multiple dovetails. Each of the protruding pieces flare out at an angle so the cuts on the receiving piece must be at the same angle as well. Precision is vital for the joint to look good. When fitted and glued, the dovetail will be a very strong joint.
Mortise and Tenon
The mortise and tenon joint is also desirable for its strength but is another complex joint. A rectangular hole is removed from one of the pieces of wood and the other piece is cut so it fits exactly into the hole. When glued, the mortise and tenon joint is extremely strong.
The box joint is a simple variation on the dovetail joint. Small square sections are cut from one piece of wood so it looks like the crenellations on a castle. Similar cuts are made on the piece of wood to which it will be joined but in the opposite direction, so the protrusions on the first piece will fit neatly into the spaces on the second piece. This is very effective for joining two pieces at 90 degrees although the joint will need to be glued in order to be strong.
Tongue and Groove
The tongue and groove joint, typically found on floorboards, is a variant on the mortise and tenon joint. The joint is usually on the edge of a piece of wood, rather than on the end, and requires specialist tools to produce them. On one piece of wood, a tongue is cut which involves removing wood from each side to leave a protrusion on the middle. On the piece of wood to which it will be joined, a groove of the same size as the protrusion is cut. After this, the first piece will slide smoothly into the groove of the second piece.