Types of woodworking joints

If you want to get the best results from your woodworking, it is always good to consider which wood joinery types you are using. There are many different types of wood joints available to use that all have their pros and cons. This article will guide you through the many different timber joints, from popular 3-way wood joints and many more, that you may come across in the world of woodworking.

What are the different types of woodworking joint?

Butt joint

A butt joint uses a simple technique whereby two pieces of material are joined together at their ends, without any special shaping or cutting. Although it is simple, the butt joint is also the weakest of the wood joinery types.

diagram of butt joint

Butt joint Jomegat at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tongue and Groove

Tongue and groove joints are most commonly found in flooring as they allow you to join two edges together to make one flat surface. The tongue and groove joint is strong, perfect for re-entrant angles, panelling and flooring.

Tongue and groove

Solid parquet boards with grooves on the near ends. Tongues on the right sides of the boards and grooves on the left sides. The far ends are tongued. Photo credit: Petko Yotov
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Half lap

Lap joints involve two pieces of material overlapping. In a half-lap joint, you remove the material from the two pieces. So, the overall thickness is the same as the thickest piece of material. Most of the time, the two pieces used for the half-lap joint are of the same thickness, and you remove an equal amount of material from both.

Diagram of a half lap joint

Half lap joint Diagram credit: Fred the Oyster, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mitred Butt

Also known as a mitre joint, you can make a mitred butt joint by cutting the edges of two pieces of material at a 45-degree angle to form a 90-degree angle when you join the edges. Mitre joints are fairly simple to construct; however, they are weak.

Mitre butt joint

Mitre butt joint. Diagram credit: PixelBytes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mortise and Tenon

Woodworkers have used this wood joinery technique for thousands of years as they are strong, stable and can be used in various projects. These joints are connected by either glueing or locking into place. However, precise cutting is required to make a successful mortise and tenon, making it a difficult joint to use.

Mortise and tenon joint

Mortise and tenon joint. GreyCat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Biscuit joint

When creating a biscuit joint, a crescent-shaped hole is cut using a small circular saw blade in the ends of two pieces of joining wood. A wooden biscuit is then covered with glue and immediately placed into the two holes, firmly joining the pieces.

Biscuit joint

Biscuit joint. Billbeee at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pocket joint

A pocket joint is created by drilling a hole (usually at a 15-degree angle) into one piece of material and then joining a second to it using a self-tapping screw. This technique requires great precision and the correct technique to ensure that gaps do not appear.

Pocket screws joining wood

Pocket screws are typically used by carpenters for building custom cabinets. Pocket screws are set into holes in the wood.


Furniture and timber framing is the most common places you’ll find dovetail joints. The joint is highly resistant to being pulled apart so that it can withstand everyday wear and tear. Pins are cut to extend from one piece of material that interlock with tails cut on the other piece.

Rabbet joint

When creating a rabbet joint, grooves are cut into the edge of a piece of wood, and a second piece is then locked into the grooves. This joinery technique is commonly used when inserting pains of glass or panels.

Diagram of a Rabbet joint

Rabbet joint. Diagram credit: The original uploader was SilentC at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Finger joint

Finger joints are also known as comb joints and are made by cutting multiple interlocking profiles into two pieces of wood. The pieces are then glued together, and the resulting cross-section joint takes the appearance of interlocking fingers.

Joinery can be tricky for any woodworker. To make things a little easier for yourself, why not get in touch to discuss commissioning JCM contracts for your next bespoke joinery project?

Photo of Finger joints

Finger joint. Credit: Dirk Bartens, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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