Butt joints

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Forum topic by time123456 posted 03-17-2013 02:29 AM 2089 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1926 days

03-17-2013 02:29 AM

Hi im a bit of a newbie when it comes to wood and im going to be making a wooden cuboid box and was looking to do a but joint to attach all the sides together as i have them all cut to the right sizes but i dont like the idea of seeing the screws once i screw them in so i was wondering if there was any way of doing a butt joint without the screws or if theirs any others people would recommend

21 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5702 posts in 2837 days

#1 posted 03-17-2013 03:08 AM

Dowels, biscuits, or mortise and tenons are three ways to make strong joints without visable fasteners.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2526 days

#2 posted 03-17-2013 11:24 AM

Here are a couple of options:

  1. Does it have to be screwed at all? Properly clamped, glue is incredibly strong on its own. It depends on the way that the box will be used though. Butt joints may not stand up well to heavy loads or repeated movement.
  2. How thick will the wood be? Could you possibly drill the hole fpr the screw heads a bit deeper and the cap the screw head with a plug that you make using a plug cutter?
  3. If it was acceptable to nail the joint instead of screwing it, you could punch the heads slightly below the surface and fill the remining hole.
  4. It is even possible to fill over a screw head if you must. Depending on the screw, it is sometimes a good idea to paint the head with undecoat t prevent it rusting.
  5. I’ve never used pocket holes before, but could you use them to screw the joint from the inside?

Now some of the options above are better than others (some even I don’t like) but I’ll leave it to you to think about them.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#3 posted 03-17-2013 11:58 AM

You can counter sink the screws and plug them. Take time in matching the wood and grain and they are almost invisible. Also contrasting plugs look good.

or, glue and spline the corners.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4838 posts in 2433 days

#4 posted 03-17-2013 03:39 PM

DON W I have seen alot of that spline joint lately, good reccomendation. I will hav to try this myself and see how I manage. Also like the contrasting plus, I have done that and it does look good.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2385 days

#5 posted 03-17-2013 05:21 PM

A simple box of modest dimensions doesn’t need anything but glue. This one is 16×12x7h with no fasteners.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2300 days

#6 posted 03-17-2013 05:45 PM

Use glue, and clamps. Make sure everything stays square though, good luck!

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2212 days

#7 posted 03-17-2013 06:37 PM

Just glue will not work well because of the end grain part of each joint.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6955 posts in 2622 days

#8 posted 03-17-2013 06:51 PM

Will these be solid wood or ply? If they are to be ply, covering the ply edges will need to be accounted for. If they will be solid wood, there are lots of possibilities. A simple tongue and dado joint may be a good choice. Gets you away from fasteners, and adds another layer of strength. Although, simply gluing/screwing them together and plugging the holes will make a strong joint.

View time123456's profile


5 posts in 1926 days

#9 posted 03-17-2013 07:15 PM

Its 6 mm plywood im working with so what would u say is best to make the box with that

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6955 posts in 2622 days

#10 posted 03-17-2013 07:27 PM

Ply will add to the complexity of the project, in my opinion. As I mentioned above, you will probably want to cover the exposed ply edges. Either on the ends or on the face grain. If you have a table saw you can dial in the set up accurately, you could do a miter joint w/splines for strength. That would cover the ends of the ply. You could then add a hardwood or the glue type banding on the front edges. Most scenarios I can think of will involve putting some sort of banding on it, if you are trying to hide the ply edges. If you aren’t bothered by the ply edges, biscuits, dowels, or a tongue and dado joint will work.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2526 days

#11 posted 03-18-2013 08:21 AM

Time123456, what size will the boxes be?

Since ply has both long and end grain on each edge, just glue and clamps could well be viable, more so than with solid wood.

Also, if you are using 6mm ply, how are you fitting screws in? Small screws I suppose, but what size? Nails and glue might actually be easier, especially if you have access to a nail gun.

6mm ply is probably too thin for the other options that I suggested previously to work.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2947 days

#12 posted 03-18-2013 11:23 AM

Butt joints are not very strong(as others have pointed out) at the very least use glue and pin nails. I wouldn’t trust a butt joint that had any kind of pressure or stress on it.

-- Life is good.

View Marty5965's profile


158 posts in 1969 days

#13 posted 03-18-2013 11:48 AM

6mm is pretty thin. Depending on the dimensions of the box and it’s use, I think a butt joint would be as good as anything (pinned and glued). Splines, MT, Rabbet and TG would leave too little wood around the joint IMO. The only way to get max strength would be dovetail and that might be a bit advanced for the OP. I would therefore recommend butt joint with glue, pin the joints and punch the pins in and fill. Just my $0.02.

-- Marty, Columbus, OH, learning every day....

View time123456's profile


5 posts in 1926 days

#14 posted 03-18-2013 12:49 PM

Just another quick question im going to be doing another one at some point and building into a computer case and was wasnt sure if im gona build it just out of plywood or build it round an exciting case but if i was to build it just out of wood ive read that theirs a possibility of the wood burning is there anything i can do to stop that ??

View Marty5965's profile


158 posts in 1969 days

#15 posted 03-18-2013 05:16 PM

So you are going to build a custom computer case? Well, different plastics (the normal product used for computer cases) melt or self-destruct at various temps, typically between 266 and 338 F. Wood will begin to dessicate at about 212 but won’t burn until about 550 F or so. If you maintain the typical internal clearances of a traditional computer case and employ the normal cooling measures I don’t think you would have any issues. If you found that certain areas became a bit warm, you could add heat reflectors, such as HVAC aluminum tape or similar. How did you do your box in the end?

-- Marty, Columbus, OH, learning every day....

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