Butt Joints

The simplest way to join two pieces of wood, the butt joint has little strength and relies on glue, panel pins or nails to hold both parts together. Ends may be either square or mitred at 45 degrees — a standard joint for picture frames. Mitred frames are often decorative and can be reinforced with veneer splines. Used for making decorative boxes and lightweight frames, surfaces must be flat and ends square for accuracy in this joint.

Tools you need

(for butt joint)

  • 2H pencil
  • Steel rule
  • Marking knife
  • Tenon saw
  • Bench hook
  • Block or jack plane
  • Try square
  • Shooting board Drill
  • Pin hammer
  • Pins or lost-head nails Glue
  • Nail punch

(additional tools for mitred butt joint)

  • Mitre square Cramps
  • Mitre shooting block
  • Smoothing plane
  • Medium to fine abrasive paper

How To Make A Butt Joint

1. Mark the timber to length and square a line all the way around with a marking knife. Hold the work piece firmly on the bench hook and cut off the waste with the tenon saw. Cut on the waste side of the line, making sure you keep the blade vertical by keeping your eye in line with the back of the saw.

2. You must now trim the end grain with a plane to obtain the best gluing surface. This can be done in one of two ways. The first is to grip the timber vertically in the vice and tighten firmly. Then, using a block plane, carefully work in from either side towards the middle of the timber. Check the work piece is true in both planes with a try square.

3. Alternatively, use a finely set jack plane and shooting board. Use the plane on its side with the work piece held against a stop on the board. This method will give more consistent results than attempting to plane a work piece held in the vice.

4 If reinforcing the joint with pins or lost-head nails, drill pilot holes for these. For greater strength, drive pins into the joint at alternate angles. Apply glue and either crams together or hold in the vice while driving home the pins.

How To Make A Mitred Butt Joint

1 Use a mitre square and knife to mark the cutting line, and continue the line around the timber using a try square. A mitre box is more accurate for guiding the saw blade than sawing the timber freehand, particularly if the timber is wide and requires a deep cut.

2 Trim the end grain with a block plane and the timber held in the vice – oramp scrap wood behind the work piece to prevent it breaking out. A mitre shooting block is better for trimming wide boards, and should be used with a smoothing plane.

3 To reinforce with veneer splines, cramp the joint in the vice with one mitre pointing upwards. Saw a cut into the timber, making sure it is straight and the bottom flat. Remove any dust from the slot. Cut a piece of veneer about 51 mm (2 in) and check for fit. It should fit fairly easily without being forced. If too tight, sand the spline by rubbing it on a piece of abrasive paper laid flat on the bench. Keep checking until you obtain a good fit. Glue in place and, when dry, remove most of the excess veneer with a chisel, followed by a finely set block plane.


Word Discription :

Mitre box A basic wood or plastic jig for accurately cutting timber square or at 45 degrees. The work piece sits on the base of the jig between parallel, vertical sides. A tenon saw is guided by existing slots cut precisely across the sides of the jig.

Spline A thin rectangular strip of veneer, plywood or timber used to strengthen a joint, glued into a slot cut by a fine saw.

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