A User’s Guide: How To Join Two Pieces Of Wood Side By Side

Some pieces of furniture awe us in how they are joined, and some are evident in their joinery. You may also decide to be a carpenter in your DIY project. It’s therefore mandatory that you understand and master some techniques in joining pieces of wood that like side by side. Below are methods of joining wood.


Corner Joints

A corner joint is one that connects two pieces of wood at the ends, therefore, forming a corner. The following are ways joints by which you can join pieces of lumber at a corner:

Butt Joint

The construction of butt joints is easy as your ABC’s. All you need to do is attach the pieces of wood at their ends using screws. Despite its simplicity, it poses one major drawback: it leaves the fastened screws uncovered. Therefore, to avert a joint failure that may result from this, apply putty or countersink the screws.

Similarly, this joint has been described as being the weakest one as it depends on glue to provide its strength. Besides this, gluing of the end grain to the long grain renders the joint further weak. It’s not surprising that a fifth-grade student can break such a joint using his hands.

Mortise and Tenon Joint

This joint is considered as being one of the strongest joints. Simplicity is key: this joint pays homage to this simple fact. It maintains a simple approach yet strong. It’s been used over the decades to join wood at a right angle.

motise tenon joint

To achieve this joint, you need to insert one end of a piece of wood into a hole on the adjacent wood. The end of the former piece of wood is called the Tenon while the hole on the latter wood is the mortise. To make this joint, you use glue. Alternatively, you may lock the joint in position by either pinning or wedging it. A standard joint of this caliber should give a perfect registration of the two adjacent planks of wood. This is emphasized when making heirloom pieces.

To distinguish a mortise from a tenon, it’s vital we define each. A tenon is a projection on one end of a piece of wood while the mortise is a cavity on the other piece of wood where the tenon is inserted. In most cases, the tenon is taller compared to its width. The mortise and tenon size is in direct relation to the thickness of the pieces of wood used. However, it’s standard practice that you make the tenon approximately 1/3’’ of the lumber’s thickness.

Dowel Joint

The making of a dowel joint is similar to a butt joint. What is distinct from the butt joint is the use of dowels instead of screws. You need to line up the wood and then using drill make a hole from one to the other piece. Drive the dowels through the hole after which you should glue them into position.

For aesthetics, you can hide the dowels by drilling the interior section of the pieces of wood and subsequently inserting dowels through the holes. However, always bear in mind that they are less secure than complete dowels.

End Lap Joint

end lap jionts

To build such a joint, saw each end of a piece of wood. Ensure that you saw them half- way in such a manner that this end assumes the shape of a step pyramid. Turn the cut edge of one wood to the other such that it fills the cut end of the other piece of wood. Align the pieces of lumber and use screws to secure them in position. Moreover, apply putty on the screws or countersink them.

Joining The Top Section Of Wood To The Side Of Another Piece

Similar to the corner joint, these joints’ cuts attach the side of a plank to the top of another plank. Such joints include:

Lock Miter Joint

This technique uses the approach of the mentioned joint above. You need to carve a nook from each plank so that they rest against each other. However, they are distinctly distinguishable. For this joint, the nook is carved at the top of one piece and the side of another plank. Moreover, it requires some carpentry skill. If properly executed, you don’t need to use any adhesive to secure the joint.

Rabbet Joint

rabbet joints

This is a close relative of the open mortise and tension joint however you can make this joint using simple tools. Despite it being reliant on adhesive to hold the joint in position, the manner in which the planks are positioned hides the wood grain.

Finger Joint

This joint is unique, and its edges look like a character from a cartoon animation. It has grooves cut from the plank forming a series of ‘hills and valleys’ that interlock with the grooves on the other piece of wood. When precisely done, they two planks can hold the joint in position due to a simple principle: friction. It is mainly used in the construction making frames for drawers and dressers.

Joining A Piece Of Wood To The Center Of Another Plank

Butt Joint Variation

This version mimics the regular butt joint. This joint however forms a T- shape at the center of the two planks where they intersect at 90 degrees.

Stopped Dado Joint

This joint similarly can be identified with the butt joint variation. However, the center of one of the piece is cut in such a way it assumes the shape of a wrench’s open mouth. The groove doesn’t span the plank’s entire width, and the other piece is placed into this groove.

These, however, are not the only ways to join adjacent pieces of wood. You can consider the following joints:

• Tongue and Groove Joint: This is an edge to edge joint.

• Pocket hole joint: It’s simply a butt joint secured with screws.

• Lap wood joint: Frequently used in making workshop storing items.

• Finger joint: It’s used to join pieces of wood that are at right angles.


There are various ways for you to join your pieces of wood that are adjacent to each other. You should, therefore, select the most appropriate joint to meet your desired strength. Additionally, if you are involved in a DIY project, you should consult a professional such as a carpenter on what joint to use. Similarly, select a technique that is easy for you. Best of luck as you keep those planks in place!

Jose A. Brown

Jose A. Brown is a mechanic engineer and an enthusiastic blogger whose mission is to provide the readers with the best tips, guides in the Home Improvement, DIY Project, and Industry.

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