There is a time in every woodworker's career when they realize the need to go back to the basics. Sure, you may have put together a few projects that look wonderful and have garnered you the praise of all those who see it, but are your projects starting to look the same? There is a multitude of variations that you can introduce into your projects to add some strength, flare, or even simplicity.
Joints are the building block of every project using wood. Any time you need to attach two pieces of wood together, you are creating a joint, and the type of joint that you use will directly affect the strength, flexibility, and visual appeal of your project.
Though project plans that you buy will almost always provide guidance on what type of joint to use for each piece. With a little bit of knowledge you can modify the joint they propose to conceal the end grain, or perhaps to enable you to disassemble the piece in the future, or perhaps to show off some intricate dovetailing.
The greatest benefit of this knowledge is when you are creating your own project, and you have only an end-use in mind. With the information you find here, you can ensure that your project will be strong and will not crack with the expansion or contraction of the wood, and will give the visual appeal that you are looking for.
Instead of simply listing all joints by name, it is more useful to break down the joints by intended use. In that manner, you can navigate to the section appropriate to your project, and then you can compare your joint options. Joints are loosely categorized into four categories, based on what they are used for:
- Edge joints - Edge joints deal with the joining of long-grain with long grain
- Case joints - All the types of joints you would use to create a box, case, or other such enclosure
- Frame joints - All the types of joints you would use to create a frame, moldings, or many types of supports
- Rail joints - These joints, like frame joints, are designed to attach the end grain of one piece is to be joined with the long grain of another piece, such as a table stretcher