Before you embark on any cabinetry project or purchase cabinetry, you should learn a bit about joints. They can literally make or break your cabinets. You don’t want a weak joint holding the weight of grandma’s china.
Dovetail joints are named for the shape of the tenons that fit snugly into the mortises found in these common joints. There are several types of dovetail joints, but they are all essentially the same with projections and recesses that allow for a very snug fit thanks to a tapering in the tenons. While strong, this joint takes a lot of measuring, marking and cutting.
Finger joints are similar to dovetail joints with the only difference being a lack of taper in the tenons. This makes the joint a little less strong than its counterpart, though it is still quite strong and common.
Butt joints are the simplest of all cabinetry joints to achieve. There is no manipulation of the end of the board. One is simply held flush against the end of the other at a 90-degree angle. You can glue it, nail it or screw it. It is a weak joint that can be made stronger with the right hardware.
A dowel joint is essentially a butt joint with either wood, metal or cam dowels securing it. This makes the joint more stable and thus stronger.
Rabbet joints have 90-degree grooves cut into the end of each board. They are relatively simple to create, though not the strongest joints.
A dido joint has an open channel at any point in one board that the end of another board fits into. This joint is great for shelving.
Step scarfs and miter scarfs are ideal for making lengths of board longer when you can’t get them in the size you need. The end of each board is cut at a smooth or stepped angle then secured together to create a flush finish.
Tongue and Groove Joint
Tongue and groove joints are strong joints that are often used in flooring and paneling. One side features a groove along the edge while the other has a projection known as a tongue that slips into the groove.
Mortise and Tenon Joint
Mortise and tenon joints are among the oldest methods for creating corners in cabinetry. It is essentially a hole or mortise in one board and a tenon at the end of another. The tenon fits into the mortise and glue holds it together. This is a strong joint that is relatively easy to create.