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Wood Joints—The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Posted by Laurence Lok on

Good reproduction furniture will not just be nailed or glued together. The type of wood joinery is one of the most important elements in determining a piece of furniture’s quality. Today we'll give some examples of the best-practices and worst-practices in terms of this aspect of woodworking.

The Good:

The good kinds of joinery employ a method of interlocking wood. If your furniture includes these types of meticulous, hand-crafted and built-to-last construction techniques, you know your furniture will last for years to come. Some of the sturdiest, tried-and-true types of wood joints include:

  • Dovetail
  • Mortise and tenon
  • Butterfly

dovetail joint

An example of dovetail joinery.

The Bad:

Simpler joinery techniques generally rely on glue or weak and flimsy methods as reinforcement – and will result in structurally weak furniture. These include, but are not limited to...

  • Butt joints
  • Dowel joints
  • Rabbet joints

The Ugly:

It's a rare sight, but if you see furniture being held together by just nails and glue, don't even think twice about it—it may be cheap, but it won't be something that will hold well with normal wear and tear. These are the types of pieces you'd expect to find in your local consignment shop.

Reputable furniture companies, especially those dealing in antique reproductions, will use the same construction techniques as those used in the original antique furniture pieces themselves. But joinery is just one aspect of construction that you should look out for when determining the quality of your furniture company.