The 10 Different Types Of Wood Joints Explained

As you might feel a bit overwhelmed if you're new to woodworking terminology, the following information should be helpful. You may already be familiar with many of the terms involved, but confusion arises because they now hold different meanings. Example: finger joints, butt, lap, and edge. Try not to be too intimidated, though. With some research, a little time, and practice, you'll gain more practical experience and feel your confidence grow.

Here, the topic of the most common types of wood joints will be explored. The following types of joints will be discussed:

  • Dovetail joint
  • Finger joint
  • Tongue and groove
  • Mortise and tenon joint
  • Spline joint
  • Dado
  • Lap joint
  • Miter joint
  • Rabbet
  • Butt joint

Dovetail Joint

Used to fasten together two pieces of timber, the dovetail joint is thus named because of its avian anatomical resemblance.

Finger Joint

You may also hear this referred to as a box or drawer joint. The 90° cuts which are called for can be made by using a radial arm/table saw, a router, or by hand. You frequently see this joint interlocking the sides and ends of a drawer.

Tongue and Groove

You may have seen this type of wood joint in off-the-shelf flooring stock. On opposite edges, they come in the form of ready-made groove and tongue joints.

Mortise and Tenon Joint

The name of this type of wood joint denotes its two parts. The tenon is inserted into the hole or slot known as the mortise. Though structural rigidity is offered by this type of joint, compared to simpler joints, it can be harder to shape.

Spline Joint

Most typically, this is a thin wood strip that fits into surface grooves perfectly, joining two pieces. These are frequently incorporated into miters and other joints.


When you cut a groove or channel into a piece away from the edge, it is referred to as a dado. Firmly into the groove, you set a second piece to make a dado joint using fasteners like glue or nails.

Lap Joint

When you join two pieces into which recesses have been cut, a lap joint is formed. On the first piece’s top surface, one recess is cut. On the second piece’s lower surface, another recess is cut. When the lap joint is connected, the bottom and top of the joint and flush with one another.

Miter Joint

An angle cut is used for miter joints. To connect to the angled ends of two pieces, it is a type of butt joint. Think about a picture frame as a classic example. At a 45° angle, the corners are each cut and then joined together. This type of wood joint offers two advantages:

  • For gluing and extra stability, a bigger surface area.
  • For aesthetic benefits, no end grain shows.


No, that is not a misspelling. This does not refer to the furry little animal with the cottontail. You may also hear the term "rebate" used instead of rabbet joint. This is a joint type that presents in the shape of a channel or lip cut from your workpiece’s edge. When set against the rabbet, a standard rabbet joint is made when a second piece is joined to the piece designated as the primary.

Butt Joint

Whether at a corner, edge-to-edge, or face-to-face, when two squared off pieces of wood are joined/connected, a butt joint is used. With regard to simplicity, this is one of the easiest to make. Other than the initial shaping cuts, it requires little in the way of shaping.

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