Pros & Cons Of Wood Joint Types

Pros & Cons Of Wood Joint Types

If you’re searching for the pros & cons of wood joint types, this post should help!  We will cover a few of the most popular types of wood joints and talk about their strengths and drawbacks.  This will help you decide which is best for the type of furniture, cabinetry, or drawer boxes you’re getting ready to purchase.

Wood Joint Definition

A wood joint is where 2 sections of wood intersect and are bound together.  There are various types of wood joinery which include the butt joint, dovetail joint, box joint, dowel joint, tongue & grove joint, and mortise & tenon joint.

Pros & Cons By Wood Joint Type

The various joints are used in a variety of different applications. Some are better for one situation but may not be as good for another.  See below for more information about where each wood joint shines.

Dovetail Joint Pros & Cons

Dovetail joints are used in a very wide variety of applications; from fine furniture to cabinetry they are considered the premium wood joint.   This is due to the superior strength of this joint type.  This joint does not use staples, dowels, nails or screws.  It uses corresponding cuts which are an exact negative of each other on the adjoining sections of wood.  When assembled these sections create a durable and sturdy joint.  They are typically reinforced with wood glue for maximum strength.  The only cons the dovetail has is they are hard for inexperienced woodworkers to make and they cost more for consumers.

Dowel Joint Pros & Cons

The dowel joint is another quality type of wood joinery technique.  It does not use nails, screws, or staples, which often fail and present a potential safety hazard.  The dowel joint offers the same hidden joint look as dovetail but costs less.    Dowel joints are easier for DIY woodworkers, but will never offer the same strength as the dovetail joint.  They also have a tendency to shear and can be hard to align.  They are a good option when a homeowner’s budget will not allow the purchase of the higher quality dovetail joint.

Tongue & Groove Pros & Cons

The tongue & groove joint is used for connection sections of wood at their edges.  One of the most recognizable tongue & groove examples is wood flooring.  Each section of the flooring has a slot running down its length on one side, and a tab running down the other.  These sections fit tightly and create an excellent joint when tapped together.  In some cases such as the creation of fine furniture glue may be added to the joints to make them even stronger.

Mortise & Tenon Joint Pros & Cons

The mortise & tenon joint is used in all sorts of frame construction projects; from window frames to cabinet door fabrication.  It is similar to tongue and groove joint in that there is a slot and tab design element.  Yet the difference is that the joint is made at 90 degree angles and features a single wide tab and slot.  The con to mortise and tenon is in the quality of the fabrication.  If the proportions are incorrect the wood can shear on either side.  This makes the mortise and tenon joint an incredibly difficult joint for the DIY’er to create.


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