Fundamentals of woodworking joints course

A perfect woodworking joint would have the following attributes:
  • Aesthetically pleasing no matter what angle it is viewed from.
  • A high degree of mechanical interlock and large face-grain to face-grain gluing area. As a result the joint will be strong and not require reinforcement such as screws.
  • Self-aligning and thus easy to assemble.
  • Quick to cut.
  • Require a low skill level to produce.
  • Does not require a further investment in machinery, tools and/or accessories.
The perfect woodworking joint does not exist. Any joint you or I make compromises on one or more of the above attributes. We often trade one off against the other. For example a half-blind dovetail joint used on a drawer is aesthetically pleasing and is very strong. If cut by hand the joint requires great skill and takes a lot of time. If cut by machine it is quicker, requires less skill, looks almost as good but requires an investment (initially) in a router, dovetail bit and dovetail jig. An alternative joint such as a dado and rebate doesn't look as good (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), is not as strong (but could well be strong enough), is quicker to cut, requires less skill and uses equipment which probably already exists in a home workshop.

I enjoy the challenge of deciding what joints to use where. I enjoy the trade-off exercise. Even when working from somebody else's plans I will retain the form but may well decide to use different joints. My course Fundamentals of woodworking joints is designed to give you the knowledge to make intelligent trade-offs when deciding what joints to use.

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Course content:

  • Joint attributes – what makes one joint different to another
  • Basic orientation of joint components
  • Wood movement
  • Strength of wood
  • Joint strength
    • Mechanical interlock
    • Joint proportions
    • Chemical reinforcement – glue selection, assembly and clamping
    • Wood and metal reinforcement – dowels, pegs, keys, splines, feathers, biscuits, slip tenons, screws, nails and more.
  • Cut versus milled joints
  • Cut joints: end–to-end, end-to-edge, end-to-face, edge-to-edge, face-to-face and edge-to face
  • Milled joints: rebates, dados, grooves, pockets and notches
  • Milled joints: stock removal – simple versus complex, symmetrical versus asymmetrical
  • Milled joint families: scarf, lap, housed, mortice and tenon, mitres and bevels, and dovetail
  • Hand tools vs machines
  • Jigs: commercial vs shop-made
  • Schools of thought – design around the construction versus construct around the design

This is an online course presented via Microsoft Teams. The fee (which includes a comprehensive handout and post course support) is R500,00.


Last updated 20 August 2020