Bl hink back to your first woodworking experience. Chances are that this fateful deed, which set you on the road to becoming a woodworker, involved joining two or more pieces of wood. My first act of craftsmanship was to nail several wooden blocks to my parents' coffee table. The satisfaction of solidly joining one board to another encouraged me to explore other areas of woodworking. (That very evening I learned how to cut a switch.)
Joinery, after all, is the heart of woodworking. Project design, wood selection and preparation, sanding, and finishing are important, too. But we spend most of our shop time cutting large boards into little pieces, then assembling those pieces with the hope of making something useful. More than any other woodworking skill, joinery determines the utility and durability of the project. This could be why early woodworkers referred to themselves as "joiners."
Joinery, unfortunately, is also one of the most misunderstood subjects in woodworking. Its easy to see why. Open any book on woodworking and you'll see dozens, maybe hundreds of ways to join one board to another. Each one seems more intricate than the last. With so many joints to choose from, how can you possibly determine which is best for a particular job?
It needn't be so confusing. All those complex joints are just variations on a few simple themes.
Types of Joints
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