How to Join a Wood Board Together

Written by mark morris
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How to Join a Wood Board Together
There are many ways of making joints with wood. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

There are literally dozens, perhaps even hundreds of methods for joining wood boards together. Most of these are done with some type of fastener. The two most common fasteners used are screws and nails. Wooden dowels are another common joining method simple enough to be used by beginning carpenters. Wood glue should be an essential part of every joint, since it is the binding agent that "welds" the two pieces together and is frequently stronger than the wood itself.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drill
  • Pilot bit
  • Countersink bit
  • Screw tip
  • Wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail punch

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    Screw Joints

  1. 1

    Position the pieces to be joined as they will be once joined and mark the overlapping piece in each position that you want to install a screw, typically every 4 to 6 inches. Center the positions so that they run into the middle of the edge of any material you are screwing into as much as possible to minimise splitting.

  2. 2

    Drill pilot holes through the overlapping piece in each marked location with a bit that is smaller in diameter than your screws, keeping in mind that 1/8-inch pilot holes are typically used for this. Countersink the holes with a countersink bit, so that the screw heads will run in flush with the surface of the overlapping piece.

  3. 3

    Apply glue to the piece that will be underneath. Align the pieces and clamp them in place with C-clamps or bar clamps depending on the joint being made. Select a screw that is long enough to joint the pieces firmly without piercing the piece underneath. Drive your screws in with a cordless drill and screw bit.

    Nailed Joints

  1. 1

    Position the piece as previously outlined. Drill pilot holes only if the material is fragile using a smaller bit than you would for screws. Clamp the pieces in place.

  2. 2

    Select nails that are at least 1 1/2 times as long as the overlapping piece is thick, but short enough not to pierce the piece underneath. In general, one-by lumber is nailed with finish nails and two-by lumber is nailed with framing nails.

  3. 3

    Hammer the nails in, holding them upright for the first blow or two. Drive the hammer squarely down to drive the nail in straight and prevent bending. Drive the nail in until it is just short of the surface. Set a nail punch on the head of the nail and tap it with the hammer to set the nail fully.

    Dowel Rods

  1. 1

    Align the two pieces to be joined and clamp them in place without glue. Measure along the seam and mark for dowels every 4 to 6 inches. Release the clamps. Use a rafter square to transfer the marks to the inside faces of the joint, marking each in line with the mark, and an equal distance from the face on both pieces. For example, to join two pieces of 3/4-inch thick wood edge to edge, mark them in their centre or 3/8-inch off the face.

  2. 2

    Drill a hole the same diameter as your dowels and half the length of the pieces you will use into the inside joint face on each mark. Fit the dowels in the holes and "dry" fit the joint without glue to ensure proper fit.

  3. 3

    Apply glue to the ends of the dowels and both inside faces of the joint. Fit the joint together and clamp it in place overnight with bar clamps.

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