Wood Joinery Methods That Use No Fasteners

Learn How to Join Wood with No Screws, Nails or Other Metal Fasteners

One of the many ways that fine woodworking differs from carpentry is that in many instances, fine woodworking uses no mechanical fasteners to secure one board to another. Sure, there are times that a furniture or cabinetry project may call for some finish nails or wood screws, but there are many methods for connecting wood that do not require such fasteners. Take away a carpenter's nails or screws, and he'll go home for the day.

The following is a list of various joinery methods that,...MORE when done properly, will securely fasten two boards together with no metal fasteners whatsoever. Just a little know-how, some tools and probably a bit of glue to secure the joint.

  • 01 of 07
    Drawing of a Mortise and Tenon Joint
    Drawing of a Mortise and Tenon Joint. (c) 2006 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Examples of mortise and tenon joints can be found in woodworking projects that are centuries old. The premise of a mortise and tenon joint is simple: a hole in one board, known as a mortise, is cut to accommodate a pin on another board, called a tenon. When the tenon is inserted into the mortise and secured properly, the two boards can become nearly as strong as a single board. Here are some tips for creating mortise and tenon joints that are as attractive as they are strong.

  • 02 of 07
    Drawing of a Through Dovetail Joint
    Drawing of a Through Dovetail Joint. (c) 2007 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    There may not be any more attractive or classic wood joint than the through dovetail. When properly cut and assembled, the through dovetail is a strong and beautiful method for joining the ends of two boards, particularly at a right angle. This method is commonly used for drawer construction or for building chests where the corners become part of the character of the piece. In this article, learn how to become a master of this classic woodworking joint.

  • 03 of 07
    Drawing of Half-Blind Dovetails
    Drawing of Half-Blind Dovetails. (c) 2007 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Similar to a through dovetail joint, the half-blind dovetail is where only one half of the joint shows the dovetails. When looking at the joint from the opposite side, the board appears to simply end with no joint whatsoever, hence the half-blind name. This joint is a little trickier to create, but has very specific uses, such as when connecting the sides of a drawer to the front, where the dovetails would not want to be seen. In this article, learn how to master the half-blind dovetail joint...MORE for use in your woodworking projects.

  • 04 of 07
    Drawing of Sliding Dovetail Joint
    Drawing of a Sliding Dovetail Joint. (c)2007 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    A sliding dovetail joint is simpler than either a through or half-blind dovetail joint, in that it is just one pin and one tail to combine the two boards. This joint has ample strength in one direction, but very limited strength in another, as the joint can be easily separated if no glue or other methods are used to secure the joint. With that knowledge, there are some very specific instances where a sliding dovetail is the perfect choice. In this article, learn how to perfect this simple and...MORE unique woodworking joint.

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  • 05 of 07
    Drawing of Box Joint
    Drawing of Box Joint. (c) 2007 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    If you're looking for a simpler alternative to the through dovetail joint, one that can be created very simply and easily in a repeatable fashion, consider the box joint. This joint is a type of finger joint that has multiple uses, and can be created very quickly using a box joint jig with your table saw. Here are the steps you need to know to create your own box joints.

  • 06 of 07
    Dowels to Join Wood
    Dowels to Join Wood. (c) 2009 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Doweling is another old-school joinery method, whereby two or more rounded sticks of wood, known as dowels, are inserted into corresponding holes in two boards to hold them together. Glue keeps the dowels and boards from separating, while the dowels provide lateral strength. It takes little more than a drill and a set of bits to install dowels, but they can be a little tricky to align. Here are some tips to making doweling work for your project needs.

  • 07 of 07
    biscuit cutter
    Biscuit cutters make joining roadbed sections much easier. ©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Biscuit joints aren't nearly as structurally strong as many of the joinery types in this list, but they are perfect for some applications. For instance, biscuits are great for joining face frames to cabinet carcases. A biscuit cutter is used to cut slots into the corresponding boards, and then a football-shaped biscuit is glued into each of the slots. Once the biscuit expands with the moisture from the glue and then dries, the joint is secure. Here are some tips for using biscuits in your...MORE projects.