Traditional wood joints and necessary tools
Although most craft wood joints are professionally made by craftsmen, many handy do-it-yourselfers are also capable of making them. A number of connections require a lot of skill, but this can be gained through experience; for example by practicing with wooden test pieces. It is important that the makers of traditional wood joints have good tools and that applies to both the craftsman and the handy hobbyist.
Main artisan wood joints
Traditional connections have been used in wooden furniture for hundreds of years. Furniture makers came up with various wood joints that still exist today, such as in restoration work. The most important traditional wood joints include dowel joints, half-wood joints, mortise and tenon joint, tooth joint and dovetail joint.
A dowel joint is a simple mortise and tenon joint that can be made quickly but is less strong. A dowel is a round pin that connects the two parts. The Karwei website contains an extensive step-by-step plan for making a dowel connection.
With a half-timber connection, half of the two parts to be joined are sawn away. It is a simple connection that can be used if there are not too great demands on the load capacity.
Pin and hole connection
A usually flat pin is made on one part and a hole is cut from the other part. The pin can be pushed into the hole and then glued.
This connection connects two perpendicular parts by alternately sawing out teeth that fit into each other.
With a dovetail joint, a pin is made on one part in the shape of a swallow’s tail. That dovetail fits exactly into the recess of the other part. This is a very strong connection due to the barb effect of the dovetail.
Initially, tools such as pencil, folding rule, set square, miter square and crosswood are required for the manufacture of traditional wood joints. Precise marking of the parts is necessary to obtain tight connections. Numerous other tools are indispensable for making the traditional wood joints and should preferably be of good quality in order to be able to work accurately, such as a chisel, drill, alder, hammer, handsaw, cross wood, screw clamp, planer, screwdriver, miter hook, file and square.
With a chisel, which consists of a flat piece of steel with a sharp edge at the end, you can cut into the wood. To make the piece of steel manageable, it is contained in a wooden or plastic handle. A chisel is an essential tool for making a dovetail joint.
Woodworkers usually opt for a folding rule and not, for example, a tape measure. Marking out from a folding rule is more practical because a folding rule consists of sturdy parts.
As with many actions to make something, a hammer is also necessary for making wood joints. For example, a hammer is needed to knock on the handle of the chisel or to fit parts together. A hammer is not used for driving nails because traditional wood joints are usually glued or screwed.
Of course, larger pieces of wood sometimes have to be made smaller for a certain connection, which is often done by sawing with a handsaw.
A crosswood is a marking tool that is adjustable. By means of a sharp point, lines can be scratched into the wood that indicate where, for example, saw cuts should be made.
Because not with nails, but parts are glued together, it is sometimes necessary to clamp those parts together for some time, which can be done with clamps.
Pencil and alder
Marking has to be done very accurately, so that an ordinary pencil with a pointed tip is more precise than a so-called carpenter’s pencil with a thick point. Sometimes an alder is used to mark the wood with the tip.
Although wood is usually prepared by machine, it sometimes has to be planed to make a part fit or smooth.
An extensive toolbox usually contains screwdrivers to handle screws of all sizes.
Chisel-cut parts sometimes need to be filed to the correct fit.
Square square and miter square
These two tools are used to mark things at an angle where the square always indicates an angle of 90 degrees and the miter square 45 degrees. There is an alternative in which the angle can be set and fixed yourself.
More information on the internet
Example descriptions and photos or drawings of traditional wood joints can be found on various websites on the Internet.