Biscuit and Dowel Pin Joinery vs Mortise and Tenon Joinery

Like many other recreational woodworkers, I often have a tendency to use the joinery method that I am the most comfortable, or is the quickest and easiest, without giving full consideration to whether the chosen method provides for the absolute best looking and most durable joint.

I have long liked using biscuit joinery for edge joining boards for table tops, cabinet sides, mitered corners of picture frames and the like. I also like using dowel joinery despite the need for critical alignment of dowel holes in adjoining parts. Sometimes, however, I have been guilty of using biscuit and dowel joinery in building tables and chairs and have experienced problems with joints loosening up.

I had always steered clear of mortise and tenon joinery past woodworking projects (even when I knew it would be the best joinery method), because of the difficulty factor and time required to make good precision joints. Recently, however, my recent purchase of a tenoning jig for my table saw and a bench model mortise has made it easy and fun to make much preferable mortise and tenon joints in projects like chairs, tables and cabinets where there is considerable stress and strain on leg/frame joints.

I wholeheartedly encourage my fellow recreational woodworkers to invest the time to really study up on wood joinery and then to (as possible) invest in the right equipment for your shop that will let you utilize the best joinery method for each specific woodworking project you undertake. Like me, you are sure to find the satisfaction of knowing your finished product reflects high quality joinery techniques that will stay strong and tight for many, many years to come.

Written by John Cooper

John spent the better part of the 28 years he was employed by Klockit, designing hundreds of clock and furniture kits and plans and has continued with product design since his retirement in 2008. John’s love of clocks, his passion for creating furniture for his own home as well as for family, and his great appreciation for the beautiful finished pieces Klockit customers make from our kits and plans inspire him to continue to create still more new clock and furniture designs.

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