How to Make a Cross Halving Joint in Woodworking

The difference between cross halving joints and corner halving joints is that you cannot remove the waste using only a saw. You have to make a ‘housing’ and for this you need a chisel.

Saw down the width lines to the halfway mark and make additional saw cuts in between to break up the waste ˇŞ these can be the same width as the chisel blade to make chipping out easier. Grip the work in a vice, or on a bench hook, and now use the chisel to remove the waste. This is done in four stages. Guiding the chisel blade bevel uppermost with one hand and striking the handle with the palm of your other hand ˇŞ for this job your hand is better than a mallet ˇŞ reduce the edge of the timber nearest to you to a shallow slope ending a fraction above the halfway line Don’t try to remove all the wood in one go or it will split. Remove just a sliver at a time.

cross halving joint How to Make a Cross Halving Joint in Woodworking

The next step is to turn the wood round and slope the other edge to leave a sort of pyramid of waste. With that done, pushing the chisel through the wood rather than hitting it, gradually flatten off the pyramid until you have brought it level with the halfway lines. You’ll get a neater finish here if, in the final stages, you work with the chisel’s blade flat but at an angle to the grain of the wood. Finally, again pushing the chisel, remove any ragged fibres lodged in the angles of the housing.

Once you’ve sawn and chiselled out the housing in the second piece of wood, the next step is to try fitting the two together. Don’t try forcing them if they don’t quite fit ˇŞ you’re in danger of splitting the wood. Instead, carefully chisel off a fraction more wood, bit by bit, until you can fit the pieces together without undue force. If, on the other hand, you’ve cut the housing too wide so the fit is very loose, you’ll have to add some reinforcement like screws or dowels, and fill in the gaps with a wood filler, stopping or a mixture of fine sawdust and PVA adhesive. It’s not worth trying to add a wedge unless the gap is very wide (over 6mm/1/4in) because the result can be very messy.

Making a cross halving joint

1 First mark out the waste area to be removed, then cut down the width lines with a tenon saw.

2 Hold the timber in a vice or against a bench hook and remove the waste by chiselling at a slight upward angle.

3 Do the same on the other side until there’s a ‘pyramid’ of waste in the middle. Gradually flatten this.

4 When nearing the thickness line, hold the cutting edge at an angle to the wood grain Trim fibres in the corners.


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