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What is a Finger Joint?

Dee Saale
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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A finger joint is a great way to join the sides of a case, box, or cabinet together. It is also a common method of fixing chairs and tables. In woodworking, it is an excellent way to attach wooden sides, when other kinds of joints would not provide enough surfaces for gluing. In appearance, there are many "fingers" laced together to form a finger joint. Each finger gives an additional surface where glue can be applied, making the construction quite strong.

Cutting finger joints on a table-mounted router mandates a particular kind of box-joint jig. The jig lets the woodworker space each notch precisely. A finger joint jig can be purchased at a hardware store or it can be made.

The hardest part of using a finger joint jig is setting it up so that it cuts each of the notches in the precise location. Finger joint jigs for a table-mounted router can only cut notches in sizes that are commonly found in straight bits. Consequently, they are found in sizes such as 1/8 inch (.3 cm), ¼ inch (.6 cm), 3/8 inch (1 cm), and ½ inch (1.3 cm).

Once all the finger joints are cut, it is time to apply glue. Run some wood glue down each finger, making sure it covers the entire surface. There is no need to put glue on both surfaces for a finger joint, as it will simply ooze out and make a mess. After the glue is applied, join the sides of the wood, interlocking each finger joint.

Without the proper tools, making a finger joint can be quite difficult. Although there are many different ways to learn how to make a finger joint, the easiest is through hands-on experience with a person experienced in woodworking. Experts can be found through family or friends or even at a local hardware store. Oftentimes, there are classes through the hardware stores that will teach groups of people in a casual setting. The expert can teach the novice the ins-and-outs in short period of time, where other methods may be a bit more time consuming.

Other learning methods can be found through books or on the Internet. There are step-by-step instructions; however, they can appear quite complex and may intimidate someone new to woodworking. If books or the Internet is the best method for you, it is best to start with a book designed for beginner. In those cases, the instructions are simplified and do not presume any previous knowledge in woodworking.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dee Saale
By Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to AboutMechanics.

Discussion Comments

By DinoLeash — On Oct 29, 2011

@carrotisland- Several years ago, there was a show on PBS called “The Woodwright’s Shop”. I’m not sure if this is the one that you are talking about or not. The man’s name was Roy Underhill and he could build anything and everything with just some handmade tools. He always wore silly looking hats but created some of the most beautiful woodwork I have ever seen!

By CarrotIsland — On Oct 28, 2011

There used to be a show on television where a man (the carpenter) would build all kinds of things and not use any power tools. Does anyone else remember that show? He would build beautiful wood furniture and does it all without any power tools. He used to stress how the joints were the weakest part of any woodworking project. He did dovetail joints by hand and made it look so easy! I wish I could remember his name or the name of the show!

By medicchristy — On Oct 27, 2011

My dad has always loved woodwork. He has built shelves, cabinets, tables, and all kinds of other things for as long as I can remember. He recently started making books out of wood. Well, they are not real books but they look like a book when placed on a shelf. They are just for décor purposes. He uses finger joints and it makes the wood actually look like a spiral notebook. It’s an awesome idea for projects such as that!

He used to use a jig to cut the finger joints but they turned out much more natural looking when he did it by hand. It takes a little longer but the outcome is beautiful!

Dee Saale

Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is...

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