November 26, 2022
One of the skills you should learn as an aspiring woodworker is edge jointing. It is the process of preparing the wooden board’s edge accurately and straight to set it for the next operation. Jointing is traditionally done with a jointer plane. Nowadays, however, you can employ various edge jointing techniques like using a hand-held router, jointer machine, table-mounted router, or a straight edge.
Some woodworkers would recommend the use of loose splines when edge jointing. Some, however, would suggest the use of tongue-and-groove joints.
You can also use a unique nail type to join edges. Yet, you can also employ modern techniques like reinforcing the joint with biscuits, dowels, and pocket screws or using Festool Dominos. Nevertheless, if you get the two surfaces that are perfectly mating, you won’t need any additional reinforcement.
What is Edge Jointing?
Edge jointing involves a preparatory process of making the wooden board’s edge accurate and straight. The desired result of the edge jointing is a very straight joint along the length of the board edge, perpendicular to the board’s face. You can employ the sprung joint technique when gluing up your panels.
You should prepare the wooden board’s edge to have a slightly concave edge along its length. Thus, when the two edges are jointed and clamped, you can create greater tension because of the sprung edges at the joint. This greater tension helps in producing a seamless joint.
For example, when you use a hand plane to do the edge jointing, you should clamp the boards face to face while joining them. This way, you can create a mirror image after jointing. Thus, despite the edges not wholly perpendicular to each other faces, when you join them, the result is an entirely flat panel because each board canceled the error in each other.
10 Top Techniques & Methods of Edge Jointing
Knowing the different techniques of edge jointing can help you make better edge joints. Below are the following edge jointing techniques you can employ to produce better joints and become better at woodworking:
1) Butt Edge Joints
If you’re joining boards, you will likely use a butt joint. This joint is a union of two wooden boards wherein one piece’s end gets placed adjacent to another wooden board’s end. It is a scenario wherein a board meets another board at a right angle.
When done, the joint looks like a letter L. Examples of butt joints include edge-to-face, edge-to-edge, and face-to-face.
The face-to-face butt joint is the simplest of all butt edge joints. Its primary purpose is to create a thick wood stock by gluing together two or more boards. The surfaces should be clean and flat before you join them.
2) Edge-to-edge Butt Edge Joint
You can produce a solid joint as strong as the adjacent wood even if you are only jointing two similar flat edges. This joint is called an edge-to-edge butt joint and is commonly done by gluing together or fastening the edges of two boards. You can use this joint for building furniture and cabinets. In this joint, the edge of one wood piece gets butted 90° to another piece’s face.
3) Edge-to-face Butt Edge Joints
You can use this joint to join vertical components of cabinets, cases, and furniture. This joint provides strength and is easy to assemble. This joint involves the mating of long grain edges. Thus, it gives a solid joint. The mated surfaces’ grains run parallel to each other.
4) Biscuited Edge-to-edge Joint
The biscuited edge-to-edge joint consists of a series of small slots cut onto the board’s edges. Onto these slots, you will insert small-shaped wood pieces called biscuits. The biscuits allow for a perfect surface alignment between two wood pieces while letting end-to-end motion between these two pieces.
This movement enables you to align misaligned slots of the adjoining pieces. You can use the biscuits that would fit well with the space. Avoid using a loose biscuit because this will cause the drifting of parts. Remember that the stiffer the biscuits in the slots, the more aligned the wood pieces will be.
5) Mitered Edge Joints
The mitered edge joint enables you to completely join pieces’ end grains. Thus, the joint ends up with a smooth and clean surface which is good to look at. The downside of making a miter edge joint is that it is challenging to make. Nevertheless, you can learn the different variations for assembling this joint.
6) Rabbet Edge Joints
The rabbet edge joint gets formed by simply removing a wood section from the board’s edge. Afterward, you can place another piece of a board onto this recessed portion to create the rabbet edge joint. Thus, this joint type gets formed by simply making a rabbet on one piece of wood.
The rabbet gets usually positioned on the joint’s back side. Thus, this joint provides a smooth and clean face, and only a tiny portion of the edge grain gets seen from the backside.
7) Dowelled Edge-to-edge Joint
One variation of the biscuit joint is the dowelled edge-to-edge joint. But instead of using biscuits, dowels get used. This joint tends to be faulty due to the difficulty of drilling perpendicular holes in the panels’ narrow edges. You can resolve this problem using a special drilling rig that lets you drill holes consistently and regularly.
However, you might not have access to this tool if you’re a hobbyist. So, you can resort to another method to produce almost the same results. Besides, ensure that the drilled holes are a bit deeper than the dowels you will be using when drilling holes.
8) Splined Edge-to-edge Joint
The splined edge-to-edge joint is another variation of the biscuit edge joint. Yet, with this joint, you are using a spline, a long biscuit, for aligning the wood pieces. You should cut slots onto the edge of the wood pieces. Then, you should use a spline made of hardboard or a plywood piece and position this spline onto the slots.
Ensure that the spline is a bit narrower than the slot’s depth. It may lead to wood splitting if it is as deep as the slot. If you use hardboard spline, however, it will not likely cause splitting, for it does not tend to shrink.
In the past, sans the availability of many modern power tools, woodworkers were more creative in making joints. Some early woodworkers, for example, made joints by lashing wood pieces together. These joints, of course, did what they were supposed to do and were very effective. But they did not offer lasting joints.
Woodworkers, nowadays, can learn many edge-jointing techniques, allowing them to vary their jointing methods. Besides, modern tools let woodworkers do their jointing with high accuracy and precision. As an aspiring woodworker, you can raise your woodworking skills a notch if you master these different edge jointing techniques while maximizing the use of modern woodworking tools.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.