Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 141, May 2017
Book Review by J. Norman Reid

Joinery , a recently-released title from Taunton Press is a compilation of 31 articles drawn from the pages of Fine Woodworking , which covers a wide range of joinery types. It extends from basic joints such as pocket holes and biscuit joints to more advanced and exotic types, including mitered dovetails and double bridle joints. Thus, it illustrates both the basic and the beautiful and provides instruction and inspiration for woodworkers at all levels.

The book is arranged in four sections. First are basic joints. Marc Adams opens the volume with advice on making precise cuts on the table saw. A combination blade and dado stack are enough for cutting tenons and dados to house shelves. Mark Edmundson shows how he uses pocket hole joinery to create fast, strong joints where appearance is secondary. Asa Christiana offers tips on making dowel joints, which he uses to build tables, drawers and cabinets. A good doweling jig is inexpensive and it allows him to make strong and versatile joints even when he hasn't planned his joinery ahead of time. Michael Fortune uses biscuit joints because of their versatility. He finds they allow him to focus on the design first and worry about the joinery later. Ian Godfrey introduces a more advanced joint, the double bridle joint. It's not only attractive but also strong, due to its ample glue surface.

But just how strong are these joints? Douglas Moore and Thomas McKenna tested 18 types of joints using identical cherry parts and Titebond III glue , then subjected them to racking pressure. Their findings were revealing. Half-lap and bridle joints were the strongest, followed by splined miters and mortises and tenons. Pocket hole screws and Dominoes were only half as strong as the most stress-resistant joints. However, they conclude that most of the joints are strong enough under normal conditions of stress and that appearance is a consideration, as well as strength. Stuart Lipp shows how he undercuts his joints and trims the shoulders of his tenons to achieve perfect fits. Mistakes are inevitable in joinery and the Fine Woodworking staff explain how to use shims to fix gappy dovetails and loose sliding dovetails and to solve problems with ill-fitting miters, among other problems.

The second section covers miters. David Hyatt shows techniques for using miters on casework. Toby Winteringham builds a precision jig to cut miters and square cuts with a high degree of accuracy. Russell James adopted a Japanese joint, the pinned miter joint, that is both beautiful and strong enough without glue. It's a haunched mitered bridle joint that's pinned and he explains how to cut it. Andrew Hunter presents another beautiful joint, the three-way miter. As he explains, it calls for precise layout but once that's done it can be cut mostly by machine.

Mortises and tenons are next. Christian Becksvoort shows how he uses a drill press to hog out the waste in mortises, finishing with a mortise chisel, so he's able to complete a mortise in 4-5 minutes, helpful when you have a lot of joinery in a piece. Tim Coleman follows with advice on making precise tenons with the table saw and bandsaw. Michael Fortune shows how to build a mortising jig that's so versatile it can even be used on curved pieces. David Lehman builds a jig that self-centers mortises for loose tenons. Steve Latta explains drawboring to strengthen tenoned joints, which he uses in tables, chairs and breadboard ends. Jeff Miller shows how to join three types of curved pieces—outside curves, inside curves and curved transitions—and how to build a jig that aids in the process. Brian Boggs uses housed double tenons because of their greater glue surface and shows a jig he uses to rout the mortises. Hank Gilpin illustrates a variety of beautiful through tenons and tusk tenons that can "juice up" your joinery.

Dovetails take up the final section. Christian Becksvoort shows how he cuts his tails-first dovetails. Then in a subsequent article he goes on to mark and cut perfect pins. Gary Rogowski becomes the dovetail doctor for a frustrated reader and while helping him improve his dovetailing practice, he offers helpful lessons for us all. Gregory Paolini uses the table saw to cut through dovetails and, using applied fronts, half-blind drawer fronts. Stephen Hammer shows how to quickly cut half-blind dovetails using the bandsaw for tails and his own router jig for the pins. Andrew Hunter uses tapered sliding dovetails to attach table tops to the legs. Brian Roy shows how he builds forms to enable cutting dovetails when both surfaces are curved, as in a jewelry box. Alan Turner builds several jigs to make and join bent lamination curved drawer fronts. Josh Metcalf uses mitered dovetails to join a mirror frame, then routs an edge pattern to achieve a beautiful result. Finally, Michael Fortune shows how he uses a router and table saw to make mitered half-blind dovetails.

This wide-ranging treatment of joinery is beautifully illustrated throughout in full color and is printed on good quality glossy paper. In my judgment, woodworkers at all levels will find something of value here. Beginners and intermediate woodworkers will find helpful instruction on the more basic techniques, while even the most advanced woodworkers will discover plenty to challenge and inspire them. I enjoyed the book and I'll find it helpful in my own work. I think you will as well.

Find out more and purchase Joinery for 30% off
as part of our May/June 2017 Taunton Press Book Specials

J. Norman Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker's assistants. He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes . He can be reached by email at nreid@fcc.net .

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