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Wood Joinery – What it is and How to Build Your Skills With It

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Wood Joinery Books

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Hwoodworking joinery instruction and tips to advance your joinery skills.

The Joinery Challenge DVD

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Joinery Tips & Techniques: How to Cut Perfect Wood Joints Every Time

Learn How to Cut Perfect Wood Joints Every Time

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Japanese Hand Tools & Japanese Joinery

Experience the art of Japanese woodworking

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Wood Joinery – What it is and How to Build Your Skills With It

By Dan Farnbach, Online Editor


 dovetail saw, dovetail joint

1. Wood joinery definition

a. The word “joinery” sometimes refers to the entire art and craft of a joiner. What’s a joiner? Quite simply, a joiner is someone who knows how to build things with wood – from fine furniture to traditional houses. So in this sense, joinery can mean everything from “woodworking” to “cabinet making” and even traditional home-building.

b. “Woodworking joinery” today usually refers to a more specific area of expertise or skills – the actual techniques that woodworkers use to connect boards together. This set of skills and techniques ranges from pocket joinery and other hardware-based methods to hand-cut dovetail joinery and other fine woodworking standbys.

2. How to Build Your Skills in a Wide Range of Joinery Techniques

a. The “apprenticeship” method. Ron Herman has an excellent video called “The Joinery Challenge,” which serves as a miniature apprenticeship in woodworking joinery. I recommend this video because Ron moves you step-by-step through nine techniques – from basic to advanced joinery – in a relatively short amount of time. This happens to be a hand-tool methodology, but the wooden joinery you’re learning applies to power-tool projects as well.

b. The “all-in” method. Our most comprehensive resource on joinery is our book “Joinery Tips & Techniques.” If you understand how to build projects and follow plans, but you want to advance your knowledge of the wide range of joints available to complete those projects, this is the book for you. We collected the best writings and teachers on every type and technique.

c. The “targeted” approach. If you ask ten woodworkers about their favorite joinery styles, a few of them will likely mention either Japanese joinery or Greene & Greene joinery. These distinctive styles are known for their strength and beauty. One way to dive deeper into the topic of woodworking joinery is to choose one of these two methods and spend some time really learning it. I recommend “Japanese Hand Tools and Joinery” and “Greene & Greene Joinery Details.”

d. The “high-powered” approach. Power tool methods, and especially router methods, can be a good way to go with your joinery. It’s surprising how many different woodworking joints you can create with a good plunge router, several router bits and a solid base of knowledge. Glen Huey takes you through these techniques in his DVD “Router Joinery Techniques.” Plug in and enjoy!

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Dan Farnbach is the Online Editor of Popular Woodworking. He's into sports, making things, and being way out in the woods. At seventeen he designed and built a footbridge in the Idaho wilderness, and realized this craft was pretty satisfying. Since then he has learned custom cabinetmaking and dabbled in fine furniture, working for two professional shops. Connect with him and other woodworkers on the Popular Woodworking Facebook page.