Joinery is a common practice in any woodwork project. Especially when it comes to joining wood at 90-degrees. This is important when making cabinets, door frames, decks, and wooden racks among other projects.
The easiest way to join 2 pieces of wood at 90 degrees is using a miter joint. You will need to cut both ends of the woods that you want to join at an opposite angle of 45 degrees. After cutting, you then fit them together and fasten with glue, then screw or nail them together.
Apart from being the easiest, the miter joint also comes with numerous advantages over other joints such as butt joints. With miter joints, there is no visible end grain hence making an attractive finish on the joints.
The other advantage that comes with the miter joint is that it is stronger since there is more surface for gluing and when fastened, it creates a strong and durable joint.
5 steps to join 2 pieces of wood at 90 degrees
When it comes to joining pieces of wood together, there are steps that you need to follow to ensure that you get the perfect angle that you want, and with a clean finish. In this case, we will look at how to join two pieces of wood at a right angle using the miter joint method.
Tools you may need
Before we focus on the steps, you will need some equipment to achieve this task. Some of the tools that are essential for this process include:
- A miter saw
- Nails or screws
- Miter box
- Wood glue
- Hammer or screwdriver
- One-handed bar clamps
- Corner clamps
- Utility knife
Step 1 – Do the measurements
The first step is to arrange your two pieces of wood so that the ends of the woods are opposite to each other. Now measure the 45-degrees angle on each end of the wood and mark them using a utility knife.
Step 2 – Cut both ends of the wood
Please note the cut that you will need to make is NOT like in the picture above, but rather one straight 45-degree cut on both pieces of wood.
After measuring and marking the two ends at a 45-degrees angle, now cut them using a miter saw, one piece of wood from upper right to the lower left, and the other piece of wood from the upper left to the lower right.
Using a miter saw is advantageous over using the ordinary saw since the miter saw does not leave any gaps and cuts accurately. This will create perfect and tightly fitting joints that will leave no gaps or end grains.
Step 3 – Fit the joints together
Once you have made your cuts on the two pieces of wood, put them together after applying glue on both cuts. The glue will ensure the strength of the joint and also help in filling the gaps that might be on the cut surfaces if you did not use the milter saw. Of course it will also hold the pieces of wood together.
Step 4 – Clamp the pieces together
After gluing the pieces, use a clamp to hold the two pieces of wood tightly against each other and leave the glue to dry up. At this stage, ensure that the angles fit each other perfectly and you can confirm the angle before fastening the pieces with screws or nails.
Step 5 – Fasten the pieces
This is the last step when in this type of joinery. You can either use nails to fasten or use the screws. The choice on whether to use screws or nails is a decision that you need to make depending on the purpose of the joint, and the strength that you need.
It is important to note that, screws offer better tensile strength than nails but are not flexible as compared to using the nails. On the other hand, nails are less brittle, and that means, they provide better shear strength than the screws.
Alternative method of joining 2 pieces of wood at 90 degrees
There are other optional methods that you can use to join two pieces of wood together at right angles. The difference that comes with the different methods is the overall strength of the joint and the quality of the finish or end grain left. Some of these optional methods include:
This is the most straightforward way to join 2 pieces of wood together. This method does not need many details hence does not need much of the woodworking skill. In this method, you place one end of the wood onto the end of another wood in a right-angled manner, then fasten them with nails or screws.
The advantage of butt joints is that it takes less time to join the pieces of wood together, and is also the simplest method. It is useful in simple projects that do not need much detailing and is also easy for beginners.
The disadvantage of this method is that it is less strong as compared to miter or other joints. In addition to that, butt joints are not quite appealing as it leaves more end grain and is hence not suitable for high-end projects.
This is another option of joining two pieces of wood together at right angles. Compared to the miter and butt joint, this is a bit complex and requires great skill to achieve a perfect joint. French Dovetail and English Dovetail are the two common types of dovetail joinery that you can try to complete this process.
When it comes to strength and other advantages, this joinery method delivers a great strength that is durable and is also appealing to the eye. The end of the wood is cut to create pins and tails where the two pieces of wood will interlock tightly, and even without fastening, the 2 pieces of wood are capable of staying at right angles just by interlocking them.
As we mentioned, one of the disadvantages of this method is that it requires good woodworking skills to achieve a perfect joint.
Mortise and tenon joint
As the name puts it, making a mortise and tenon joint requires you to create a mortise hole on one end of the wood, and a tenon tongue or tail on the other end of the wood. It is not complex to achieve this as in the dovetail joint.
Mortise and tenon joints are very common in woodworking projects and are mostly used in end-to-end joinery. This type of joint is strong compared to the butt joint, and perhaps the strength is compared to that of the miter joint.
Beginner tips for joining wood
If you are a beginner in woodworking, you will need to grasp some of the basic tips that will help you become the master of your craft within a short time. Some of the basic tips when it comes to joining 2 pieces of wood together include the following:
Check on the wood moisture content
Before creating any joint, first, check the moisture of the woods that you want to joint. This is very important since a moist wood can warp or shrink when it dries. When this happens, it may leave some gaps, or even bend the wood. Too dry wood may also crack when fastening.
Check on the screws or nails
You must use the right size and type of screws or nails to achieve a good result. Using too long screws or nails may damage the joint hence you will need to get the right size of nails that are not too small or too long for the wood joint.
Get rid of excess glue stains
Normally, glue on the joint surfaces may ooze especially when clamping the pieces of wood together. With this, it is advisable to apply masking tape so that the glue can ooze onto the tape then you can later remove the tape hence getting rid of excess glue.
Strong 90-degrees wood joints
As we have discussed above, there are different methods that you can use to join two pieces of wood at a right angle to produce a strong and quite appealing joint. Among these include miter joints, butt joints, dovetail joints, mortise, and tenon joints. Of course, there could be other methods but these are great for right angle joinery.
Along with our discussion, we did mention that you will need some tools, and the most common for this project include the clamping tool, and miter saw among other tools.
How To Join Two Pieces Of Wood With Dowels
Dowels have been used in woodworking since time immemorial. They are known to deliver the strongest joints and are even stronger compared to screws.
To understand this concept better, dowels are small and round pieces of wood that are cut evenly so that they are inserted into the fitting or matching holes at the joint ends, then glued together to form a perfect and strong joint.
As we mentioned, dowels are stronger compared to screws since using dowels increases the surface area for the glue then results in more holding power. On the other hand, screws can easily strip out of the materials and that is why dowels are preferred by most woodworkers.
To join two pieces of wood with dowels, you will need to follow these steps:
Step 1 – Do the measurements
Your measurements should be accurate when it comes to dowel joinery. In this case, you need to measure and mark the center of the butt of the end of the wood where you want to join.
Step 2 – Choose the width of the dowel
It is important to leave a substantial margin of about 4mm on all the sides of the wood when making the dowel.
Step 3 – Drill the dowel holes
After doing the marking of where the dowels will fit accurately, now drill the holes on the edge butt. This will be dependent on the number of holes that you want to create for your project. It is important to note that, the more holes, the stronger the joint.
Once you are done with drilling holes on one butt of the wood, you may use dowels as guides to drill the other wood so as to create a mating surface, or where the dowels will fit accurately with that of the other wood.
Step 4 – Try to fit the dowels
Before you put glue on the dowels, first fit to see if they match accurately with the holes. Once you have done this, apply some glue and connect the joint.
Step 5 – Clamp the joint and let it dry
After fixing and assembling the joint, clamp it and let it dry for some hours. Once your joint is dry, you are ready to move to the next step.
If you wanted to know how to join 2 pieces of wood at 90 degrees, then we hope that you have learned some tips from the different methods that we have shared. It is important to note that, the most commonly used method as we described is the miter joint method.
This method is simple and delivers a strong and quite appealing joint without end grain. If you want the simplest of all and don’t care much about the end grain, then butt joint is the option.
Of course, we have described these above so that you can choose one depending on the level of your skill, strength, and finish that you want for your joints.