How to Connect Wood with Simple Joints in Woodworking

It’s often thought that only elaborate joints give good results in woodwork. It isn’t true. There are simple ways to join timber, and one of the simplest is the butt joint. It’s easy to make, and can be used on natural timber or man-made boards.

The great thing about butt joints is their simplicity. You can use them on any kind of timber or man-made board, provided it isn’t too thin – not under 6mm. The only problem you will run into is where you are joining chipboard. A special technique is needed here to get the screws to grip.

Although it is possible simply to glue two pieces of wood together, unless you add some kind of reinforcement the result won’t be very strong. So in most cases, the joint should be strengthened with either screws or nails. The question is which? As a rule of thumb, screws will give you a stronger joint than nails. The exception is where you are screwing into the endgrain of natural timber. Here, the screw thread chews up the timber to such an extent that it has almost no fixing value at all. Nails in this case are a much better bet. In case you are looking for a place to get some wood for your project, you might want tp check the Denver lumber yard prices at the link.

wood joints How to Connect Wood with Simple Joints in Woodworking

Choosing the right adhesive

Even if you are screwing or nailing the joint together, it ought to be glued as well. A PVA woodworking adhesive will do the trick in most jobs, providing a strong and easily achieved fixing. This type of adhesive will not. however, stand up well to either extreme heat or to moisture; the sort of conditions you’ll meet outdoors, or in a kitchen, for example. A urea tormaldehyde is the glue to use in this sort of situation. It isn’t as convenient – it comes as a powder that you have to mix with water – but your joints will hold.

Choosing the right joint

There are no hard and fast rules about choosing the best joint for a particular job. It’s really just a case of finding a joint that is neat enough for what you’re making, and strong enough not to fall apart the first time it is used. And as far as strength is concerned, the various kinds of butt joint work equally well

Marking timber

Butt joints are the simplest of all joints -there’s no complicated chiselling or marking out to worry about – but if the joint is to be both strong and neat you do need to be able to saw wood to length leaving the end perfectly square.

The first important thing here is the accuracy of your marking out. Examine the piece of wood you want to cut and choose a side and an edge that are particularly flat and smooth. They’re called the face edge and face side.

Next, measure up and press the point of a sharp knife into the face side where you intend to make the cut. Slide a try-square up to the knife, making sure that its stock – the handle – is pressed firmly against the face edge. Then use the knife to score a line across the surface of the timber. Carry this line round all four sides of the wood, always making sure that the try-square’s stock is held against either the face edge or the face side. If you wish, you can run over the knife line with a pencil to make it easier to see – it’s best to sharpen the lead into a chisel shape.

Why not use a pencil for marking out in the first place? There are two reasons. The first is that a knife gives a thinner and therefore more accurate line than even the sharpest pencil. The second is that the knife will cut through the surface layer of the wood, helping the saw to leave a clean, sharp edge.

Sawing square

One of the most useful – and easiest to make – aids to sawing is a bench hook. It’ll help you to grip the wood you want to cut, and to protect the surface on which you are working. You can make one up quite easily, by gluing and screwing together pieces of scrap timber.

You also need the ability to control the saw, and there are three tips that will help you here. Always point your index finger along the saw blade to stop it flapping from side to side as you work. And always stand in such a way that you are comfortable, well balanced, and can get your head directly above the saw so you can see what you are cutting. You should also turn slightly sideways on. This stops your elbow brushing against your body as you draw the saw back – a fault that is often the reason for sawing wavy lines.

Starting the cut

Position the piece of wood to be cut on the bench hook and hold it firmly against the block furthest from you. Start the cut by drawing the saw backwards two or three times over the far edge to create a notch, steadying the blade by ‘cocking’ the thumb of your left hand. Make sure that you position the saw so that the whole of this notch is on the waste side of the line. You can now begin to saw properly using your arm with sort of piston action, but keep your left (or right as the case may be) hand away from the saw.

As the cut deepens gradually reduce the angle of the saw until it is horizontal. At this point you can continue sawing through until you start cutting into the bench hook. Alternatively, you may find it easier to angle the saw towards you and make a sloping cut down the edge nearest to you. With that done, you can saw through the remaining waste holding the saw horizontally, using the two angled cuts to keep the saw on course.

Whichever method you choose, don’t try to force the saw through the wood if that seems necessary, then the saw is probably blunt Save your muscle power for the forward stroke but concentrate mainly on sawing accurately to your marked line.

Cleaning up cut ends

Once you have cut the wood to length, clean up the end with glasspaper. A good tip is to lay the abrasive flat on a table and work the end of the wood over it with a series of circular strokes, making sure that you keep the wood vertical so you don’t sand the end out of square. If the piece of wood is too unmanageable, wrap the glasspaper round a square piece of scrap wood instead and sand the end of the wood by moving the block to and fro it’ll help in keeping the end square.

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