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Projects often require a particular type of joinery. But when they don’t and the choice is up to you, what do you choose?

From the simplest butt joints to the most finely detailed dovetails, every type of joint has its place in woodworking. For some projects, depending on the stresses that will be put on the project the joinery may call for extreme strength, or very little. For other projects, joint stress and strength is secondary to a particular appearance you’re going for.

But all these things, when you simply need to make a mid-strength joint where appearance isn’t a major factor, what joint do you go for? We all have our favorites, and mine has to be the rabbet joint.

I’ve found few situations where a well-made rabbet isn’t plenty strong for the task at hand, which makes rabbeting my favorite for making drawer boxes. Rabbets are very easy to do, and when you consider the ratio of the amount of actual work to make them (very little) to the amount of strength they provide in the end project (a lot), for much of what I do they’re the perfect joinery for me.

But then, just so that you know where I’m coming from, I’ve stated here before that dovetailing is often overrated, while butt joints are frequently derided unnecessarily. I find that rabbets give me the strength I need, with the ease-of-construction that lets me concentrate on the overall project and not on being fussy making dovetails just to impress people.

Don’t get me wrong – I like dovetails and do them, and I admire dovetailing done by others. But for me, you can’t beat rabbets.

So, what’s your favorite, all-around, go-to joint that you find yourself using more than any other, and why? Let’s compare notes.

Till next time,


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