gluing butt joints

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Forum topic by dfox52 posted 03-18-2014 07:03 PM 1258 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 1892 days

03-18-2014 07:03 PM

What would be the best way to butt join some short lengths of pine I have laying around? I have this idea to use up my short lengths of scrap to make small tops for painted items like end tables. I was thinking of using a biscuit joiner but am wondering if the grain in the biscuits might be less than ideal for gluing end-to-end. Should I use dowels instead? The butt joints will get some reinforcement from long grain on adjacent boards (picture staggered joints like a hardwood floor) so I’m thinking that the biscuits will suffice. What do you think?

12 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17761 posts in 3205 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 07:39 PM

IMO if youre going to have staggered joints on either side there’s no need for anything at the butt joints. The long grain glue joints would be plenty strong to hold it all together. If you were worried about the butt joints you could half lap them together. That would give you the most glue surface. You could also use pockets screws.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3170 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 07:52 PM

Half laps would be great for strength and I think you need that to keep the finish (paint) from cracking over time at the butt joint.

View dfox52's profile


27 posts in 1892 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 08:28 PM

Half lap sounds good! Never thought of that. Ya, I figured the adjacent boards would hold it all together but as crank said, I would be afraid that the butt seams would let go later on and crack.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2579 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 08:39 PM

Scarf joint would be the the next easiest but butt joints would be fine since they will be staggered. Wood shrinks very little along the grain.

-- Rick M,

View ToddJB's profile


8294 posts in 2329 days

#5 posted 03-18-2014 08:43 PM

dfox, good question, I was wondering this myself – I’m considering doing this for an outfeed/general purpose table.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3430 days

#6 posted 03-18-2014 09:01 PM

Are all of your short pieces the same thickness? That would help. Or, plane them until they are the same thickness. Your job would go alot easier.

Then cut the half laps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2579 days

#7 posted 03-18-2014 09:10 PM

With half laps you will have 2 smaller butt joints but still butt joints.

-- Rick M,

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2147 days

#8 posted 03-18-2014 09:55 PM

Really this is the only way to go for a strong end grain joint

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2776 days

#9 posted 03-18-2014 10:03 PM

Half laps would be great. While it’s still a butt joint, you have the additional strength of the face grain glue surfaces of the laps.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View dfox52's profile


27 posts in 1892 days

#10 posted 03-19-2014 09:13 AM

Rick, the glue strength in the half lap comes from creating two long grain faces. The two “half” thickness butts created from the joint contribute little to nothing in terms of holding the two pieces together.

View dfox52's profile


27 posts in 1892 days

#11 posted 03-19-2014 09:17 AM

My last comment posted twice. There was no delete option so I edited it with this text.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2579 days

#12 posted 03-19-2014 06:15 PM

My understanding of the OP was the concern of butt joints showing up under paint, not really strength because they sandwiched between other boards so where are they going to go. Butt joints would probably be okay but it’s a valid concern because getting end grain butt joints perfect can be tricky. I agree that half laps would minimize the problem but you are still left with 2 small butt joints that you have to get perfect. In a commercial piece they would be finger jointed like Shawn suggested. I suggested scarf joints because they are strong, quicker than half laps, and eliminate the straight lines.

-- Rick M,

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