How To Join Two Pieces Of Wood At 90 degrees: A Beginner Guide

Making wood joints is considered to be the most basic technique that all woodworker, amateur and professional, have to know by heart. Different projects may come with different requirements which means it’s wise for you to learn more than one way to fabricate wood joints. In the case you want to know more about how to join two pieces of wood at 90 degrees, you come to the right places.

An Overview Of The Joints


For most of the time, wood joints are primarily used when you want to attach two wood pieces together and assemble a more complex structure. Popular joint types are relatively simple to make using woodworking fasteners but there are other designs that require precise cutting. Some advanced forms of wood joints are even capable of holding pieces of wood together with nothing more than friction.

So what kind of wood joint should you use for your woodworking project? Well, to answer this question, you have to take a good look at the requirement of the project as well as your own taste. In most of the case, there are 5 factors you should consider: Fitness, Strength, Flexibility, Appearance and Ease Of Construction. By establishing the conditions of the joint, you should be able to figure out what type to use.

Types Of Right Angle Joints

In this part, we will talk about commonly used wood joints along with their characteristics and how to make them. While making wood joints is not exactly a demanding task, you still have to take care of yourself. Wear proper clothing and put on protective accessories just to be on the safe side. If your tools seem kind of dull, don’t take chance and sharpen them first. Inspect the pieces carefully so you don’t miss leftover nail, screw, etc.

Butt Joint

In term of simplicity, nothing can beat the butt joint, it’s essentially one of the most straightforward designs in existence. If you want to make a right angle joint within the shortest amount of time possible, you definitely need to consider using this joint. All you have to do to is to join pieces of wood at their respective ends with the help of screw, nail and alike.

However, due to the potential difference in grain and exposure, you should reinforce a butt joint in any way possible. Usually, adhesives are not going to cut it so it’s recommended that you go after nails and screws. Countersink and putty are necessary to keep the nails/screws from getting loose as time goes by.

Dovetail Joint

Well appreciated for its strength and aesthetic value, the dovetail joint is a really good choice if you are sufficiently skilled at woodworking. It involves cutting a series of “pins” and “tails” on two different piece of wood before finally joining them together. After that, you only have to secure the wood pieces with adhesive, there is no need to use fasteners here.

As it possesses excellent tensile strength, people often use dovetail joints to combine parts of wooden furniture such as cabinets. Generally speaking, tight-fitting dovetail joints should last for a long time but there is no need to worry if you are unable to make a perfect joint. Due to the design, even a sloppy dovetail joint could be strong and long lasting as well.

Mortise and Tenon Joint

Mortise and tenon joint is a balanced design that proves to be strong and simple. You could use the joint to attach wood pieces end to end but it also works quite well in intersected setups. To make the joint, you have to prepare a mortise hole and a tenon tongue, both of them are rectangular. From the outside, mortise and tenon joints appear to be similar to butt joints but they actually utilize a different way to secure the connection between the pieces.

After you finished shaping the pieces, the only thing left to do is to fit the tenon tongue into the mortise hole. To lock everything in place, adhesives are the most common choice though there are certain variants of Mortise and tenon joint that employ pins or wedge.

Popular questions about wood joints in general

How to join two pieces of wood end to end

Butt joint, dovetail Joint and Mortise and Tenon joint could be used to join two pieces of wood end to end. There are also other joint designs you could try such as miter joint, dado joint, dowel joint, finger joint and so one. Once again, there is no such thing as the best joint for every project, all designs come with their own pros and cons.

How to join two pieces of wood with screws

You could use screws to reinforce wood joints whenever you want but in reality, only the butt joint requires screws to function properly. Most of the other joints could perform adequately on their own or with the help of adhesive.

How to join two pieces of plywood

For most of the time, you should be able to join two pieces of plywood in the same way as with ordinary wood.

How to join two pieces of wood with dowels

As long as the dowels are properly crafted, the task is quite simple. Pour a bit of glue into the holes on the wood pieces and insert the dowels. Camp everything together for the glue to dry and that should be it.

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