Image showing eight different types of wood joints.

Woodworking joints come in a variety of configurations that join together two pieces of wood. Some joints involve carving channels into two different wood pieces so that they lock together, while others use fasteners like nails or screws to hold them in place. 

Because wood joints are essential to woodworking, many joint types have been used for centuries and even millennia. Carpenters and craftsmen of ancient China and Egypt helped perfect joinery methods that contractors and woodworkers still use today.

Learn about the anatomy of cabinets, common materials, and the proper techniques to build quality pieces with cabinet maker Ken DeCost in MT Copeland’s Introduction to Cabinetry online course

12 Common wood joint types

Any project made of wood, from the frame of a house to a small cabinet, will soon run into a challenge—how do you connect or join two pieces of wood to form a larger structure?  Here is a look at 12 different types of wood joints and when to use each type to get the best result for your project.

1. Butt joint

A butt joint is the most basic type of wood joint. Two different wood pieces simply sit side by side, with the butt of one workpiece adjacent to the butt of another workpiece. Unlike other wood joints, the two pieces are not shaped or carved to lock into each other, and mechanical fasteners are typically used to hold them together. 

In construction projects, butt joints may be found around baseboards and window trims, and they are an easy option when speed of construction matters more than looks.

Tip: While the basic butt joint is a workhorse and not a show pony, countersinking nails or screws can make it more attractive.

2. Miter joint

“Miter” is another word for an angled cut—and the saw that makes the cut. In the term “miter joint,” it refers to two 45-degree angled cuts where the pieces of wood adjoin to create a 90-degree angle. While the most common miter joints are made of 45-degree angles, miter butt joints can be cut at any range of angles. For example, if you want to build an octagonal-shaped structure, then you would cut each miter to 22.5 degrees.

Miter joints are commonly used at the visible, outside corners of door, window, and picture frames. They are stronger than butt joints because there is a greater surface area where the two wood pieces meet, but they still require both glue and mechanical fasteners to stay in place. 

Tip: Be prepared to make small adjustments to the angle of your miter because most cuts for door and window frames are not precisely 45 degrees due to slight variations in drywall or other construction materials. 

3. Coped joint

A coped joint is a variation on the miter joint that lays underneath the miter joint. It addresses the reality that the corners of many rooms do not in fact meet at 90-degree angles. Beneath the exterior (visible) miter joint, the two pieces of wood that make up a coped joint are carved like puzzle pieces to form an irregular but custom fit.

4. Tongue-and-groove joint

These joints consist of a tongue, or a ridge, on one piece of wood and a groove, or channel, on the other. The tongue slides into the groove to create a strong joint. 

These joints are commonly used for elements that lie flat on a surface, such as hardwood floors. Most contractors don’t have to worry about creating them as flooring materials typically arrive with the joints already cut, and the only challenge is sliding the elements together. 

Tip: If you are cutting your own tongue-and-groove joint, the tongue should be one-third of the thickness of the wood. For example, if a board is ¾” thick, the tongue should be ¼”.

5. Mortise joint

Mortise joints are also known as mortise-and-tenon joints. While they look like butt joints from the outside, a protruding element is carved into one piece (the tenon) which slides into a corresponding recess (the mortise) in the other piece. With the increased gluing surface area where the two wood pieces are joined, it is a significantly stronger—and more elegant—alternative to a butt joint. 

Tip: Always cut the mortise first. It is easier to trim the tenon to fit the mortise than it is to approach the task the other way around.

6. Half-Lap joint

With a half-lap joint, the ends of the two adjoining pieces of wood are reduced to half their thickness at the point where they overlap. There are stronger joints, but a half-lap has an aesthetic appeal over butt joints because they maintain a uniform thickness with the rest of the structure.

Half-lap joints are commonly used in framing and also in furniture construction, due to their great advantage: the frame remains uniform in thickness while other joints often result in a greater (an inconsistent) thickness as compared to the rest of the structure. Thin pieces of wood can be weakened significantly when they lose half of their thickness, so half-lap joints are best suited to thicker pieces of wood.

7. Dado joint

The dado joint gets its name from the Italian word for a die or plinth. It resembles a groove—a trench cut into one piece of wood parallel to the grain that another piece of wood slides into. But unlike a groove, a dado runs perpendicular to the grain. 

Dado joints are most commonly used in shelving systems like cabinets and bookshelves. The dado cut should go no deeper than 1/3 into the wood. If you are using a piece that is ¾” thick, keep the cut to ¼”.

8. Rabbet joint

Another joint with an unusual name (in this case from a Middle French word meaning “to force down”), a rabbet joint is related to the dado joint and consists of an open-sided channel along the end of a piece of wood. It often matches a corresponding cut in the piece it is paired with to create a double rabbet joint. 

Rabbet joints are an aesthetically appealing joint, though not especially strong and are therefore best used in constructing the back of cabinet cases and other jobs where great strength isn’t a requirement. Because of its larger surface area, a double rabbet is the better choice if you need a more rigid joint. 

Credit: Craftsmanspace.com
9. Pocket-hole joint

Pocket-hole joints rely on fasteners, namely pocket-hole screws. They are effectively a butt joint with a small pocket-hole drilled into one of the pieces of wood. The two pieces are then attached with a self-tapping pocket-hole screw. 

Pocket-hole joints are strong and easy to make. Their downside is that they are less visually appealing than other joints making them better for temporary uses, or places where the joint will not be visible. 

Tip: The screws will hold better in face or edge grain, so avoid screwing into end grain.

10. Dowel joint

Because dowel joints are more difficult to create than pocket hole joints, they are less popular now than they once were. To make a dowel joint, drill holes where the two pieces meet, place a small amount of glue in them, insert the dowels, and then clamp the pieces together. 

Dowel joints serve the same purpose as pocket-hole joints but are more aesthetically appealing, and wooden dowels offer greater strength than nails or screws. 

Tip: Expandable fluted dowels grow by about 1/32” when they come in contact with moisture in glue which can help ensure a tightly fitted joint.

11. Biscuit Joint

This unusual joint is formed by carving two curved grooves into two pieces of wood, and then joining them with a wood biscuit that is glued into place. 

Biscuit joints are typically used with sheet goods like plywood and particle board but can also be used with solid panels of different types of wood. The advantage of this joint is that it is entirely invisible creating a perfectly flush surface. 

Tip: You should cut the slots into the same side of each piece of wood that you’re joining—if you are going to use the end grain for one side of the joint, the other side should be end grain too, for example—to assure that they are perfectly flush. 

Tip: It’s important that the glue inside the biscuit joint is evenly distributed for the best fit. Use an acid brush (also called a glue brush) to assure a uniform coating.

12. Dovetail Joint

A dovetail joint is of the most distinctive joints and is recognized as a sign of expert craftsmanship. They are made of a series of interlocking pins and tails in trapezoidal shapes. They were long covered by veneers, but today they are typically left visible in appreciation of the skill involved in creating them. 

Their dominant characteristic is their resistance to being pulled apart so they are most commonly used in constructing drawers. A box joint, which lacks the trapezoidal shape, is a dovetail variation that is easier to construct.

Tip: Key to successfully creating dovetail joints is accurately marking your baselines before starting. A dull gauge will tear the fibers of the wood, so make sure yours is sharp. 

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills. 


Two slabs of dark wood side by side.

For elements that are not essential to the structures of houses, cabinets can be a remarkably important factor in shaping their look and feel, playing a starring role in kitchens and bathrooms and an often essential one in other rooms. Whether you are undertaking a bathroom remodel, building a new kitchen design from scratch, or assuring that a den or garage will be both beautiful and functional, it’s important to choose wisely among your cabinet options. 

Knowing the range of materials and their pros and cons is key to creating cabinets that are both stylish and built to last. Here’s a look at the factors to consider when choosing materials for cabinet cases and cabinet doors.

Common materials for cabinet boxes

The term cabinet box, or cabinet case, refers to the encasement of the cabinet where functionality and durability matter most. For case construction, it is common to use engineered wood materials like plywoods, MDFs, and particle board.

Plywood

Plywood is a product constructed of thin layers of wood, with the grain of the alternating sheets perpendicular to each other. Plywood cabinets are resistant to the movement typically caused by the expansion and contraction that is common to solid wood. The alternating grains also make plywood better able to hold screws and fasteners for cabinet hardware

MDF

Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is a wood-based product that is another popular choice for cabinet cases. It is made of fibers covered with thin veneers, and it has the advantage of being entirely flat and ready for paint. On the negative side, the fiber construction means that MDF doesn’t take fasteners well. If you use MDF, pre-drill holes for fasteners and add glue to the hole to assure fasteners stay in place. 

Particle board

Particle board is made of wood chips, sawdust, and resin, but as cabinetmaker Ken DeCost warns, “These can become very brittle and break easily. When they get wet, they can swell and kind of crumble, and they’re loaded with formaldehyde.” For these reasons, many contractors prefer to use particleboard only for short-term, temporary structures.

Learn about the anatomy of cabinets, common materials, and the proper techniques to build quality pieces with cabinet maker Ken DeCost in MT Copeland’s Introduction to Cabinetry online course

Common materials for cabinet doors

Some sheet goods that are not ideal for cabinet cases are better suited for cabinet doors or drawer fronts. For example, high-pressure laminates are often applied to MDF when they are used for cabinet doors, creating a product that is especially resistant to chemicals, fire, and wear.

Combi-core plywood

This engineered wood product has a particle-board core and MDF veneers. It is more expensive than MDF, but less expensive than plywood—a good option for laminate cabinets or when budget is a concern.

Plywood

If you are considering plywood for cabinet doors, concentrate on options with a fine wood veneer. While a D-grade plywood is adequate for some construction projects, when appearances matter—as they do with wood cabinets—you’ll want to opt for higher-end veneers. Look for those graded A1 and A2.

Hardwood

Solid hardwoods present a huge variety of choices when it comes to cost, appearance, and durability. Many hardwoods arrive from lumber yards in a rough sawn state, and it may be necessary to clean them up to get them to a more presentable appearance. 

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is a popular choice for restaurant kitchens, and few materials compare when it comes to durability. Unlike wood it does not expand or contract—a quality that is especially appealing in very humid areas. On the downside, stainless steel can have a tendency to scratch and fingerprints are often stubbornly visible. 

Aluminum frames

Aluminum frames with glass inserts have long been a popular option for kitchen cabinets in Europe. Increasingly, they are making inroads into the North American market. They are lightweight, easy to install, and customizable with a variety of different panel insert options.

Vinyl film

These affordable films can be applied over existing cabinet doors and come in a range of colors and grain patterns. It’s an inexpensive and fast route to a refreshed look if new cabinets are beyond your budget. 

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills.

Image of a commercial blueprint.

Blueprints, plans, drawings—in construction, these three terms all refer to the same thing. These are technical drawings created by architects, engineers, and designers to represent the vision for a construction project, and act as a roadmap for making it a reality. 
Professional carpenter Elly Hart explains in her class on reading commercial blueprints, “Construction blueprints aren’t just drawings—they’re a contract that represents what’s going to be built, and it’s a critical form of communication that gets everybody involved on the same page. It’s the one shared goal for all the different trades on site.”

8 Types of construction drawings 

There are 8 main types of construction drawings included in a set of commercial blueprints. The same types of drawings also appear in residential construction, but their scope and specific contents will differ. Elly Hart explains:

“On commercial projects, blueprints are typically separated by discipline. The architectural drawings are separate to the structural drawings, which are separate to the mechanical drawings, and so on. A complete set of IFCs will often contain hundreds and hundreds of sheets. There will often be multiple floors, multiple sets of stairs, multiple components that look the same but have important differences depending on their purpose and location, and they all need to be uniquely identifiable on the plans.”

Below is a detailed description of each type of construction drawing you’ll encounter in a set of commercial blueprints.

Site Plans

Site plans are a type of architectural drawing that functions as a map of a building site, giving you the details you need to know about how the structure will be oriented on the lot. An architect will create a diagram that shows the plot of land and its property lines, along with its landscape features, setbacks, driveways, utility poles and power lines, fencing, and on-site structures.

Floor Plans

A floor plan is a bird’s eye view of a building, giving you a detailed picture of the layout of each floor. It includes features such as walls, doors, windows, means of egress, and sometimes even furniture. 

Reflected Ceiling Plans (RCP)

The RCP is a print that shows you the dimensions, materials, and other key information about the ceiling of each of the rooms represented on your blueprint. It takes its name from the idea that you are looking down at the ceiling as though there were a mirror on the floor reflecting the ceiling’s plan back to you. 

Sections

While a floorplan gives a horizontal view of a floor in a building, sections give a vertical view. A sectional view shows the floor elevations, ceiling heights, and construction details such as fire separations. While a floor plan allows for a view of how the walls stand in relation to each other, a section shows where the wall meets the floor, and the distance that separates one floor from another. Sections also provide a better understanding of how a building’s spaces will accommodate its future occupants and whether, for example, the ceiling will feel like it looms or soars overhead. 

Structural Drawings

Engineers create structural drawings to show how the building will be framed, and how it will be given its structure. You’ll see a structural drawing for each floor of the building, including floors below grade such as parkades and storage. 

Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Drawings

MEP drawings show the central nervous system of a building. Describing these functions, from ensuring its air quality to planning its electronic and communications systems, to laying out complex piping routes, is the responsibility of MEP engineers. 

Schedules

Schedules are drawings showing supplementary information, typically presented in tables, that go beyond the details that can be found on the floor plans. Window and door schedules provide the additional information that a contractor will need in order to install these items: the different types of windows and doors to be used in a building, their locations, and the hardware and finishes to be used with each of them. There are often separate hardware and finish schedules as well as fixtures and equipment schedules. 

Detail Drawings

Special details of a building are included in drawings whose features are magnified so that a builder can see how to construct these elements. Structural connections, stairs, means of egress, and wall junctions can all be included in supplemental detail drawings.


MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills.

Image of a sample window schedule.

When most of us think of a schedule, what comes to mind first is likely a timetable of events, much like the program for a performance or an itinerary for a vacation. In the context of construction drawings, however, the word often has a different meaning. 

Schedules in blueprints are organized supplementary information, typically presented in tables, that go beyond the details that can be found in the construction drawings. If all the information in schedules was included on the drawings, the building plans would be cluttered with notes and be impossible to read. 

Window and door schedules provide the additional information that a contractor will need in order to install these items: the different types of windows and doors to be used in a building, their locations, and the hardware and finishes to be used with each of them. (There are often separate hardware and finish schedules as well as fixtures and equipment schedules.)

Door Schedules

This is what a typical door schedule looks like:

The first column here—and on most schedules—will be a number that corresponds to one used on the blueprints, allowing you to quickly cross-reference the documents. Doors are often indicated on drawings with a number in a hexagon, while windows are often indicated with a letter in a circle or diamond.

After finding the number for a particular door on the corresponding schedule, the contractor can determine the type of door, its size, whether any glass elements will be tempered, door hardware, material, finish, and additional notes. In the schedule here the fact that all French and sliding doors will be standard, not custom, is specified as is the fact that screens will be provided with the sliding doors.

Some schedules will also include an estimate of the time and/or cost involved with installing each window and door—helpful information when calculating the total cost of a project, and then staying within a budget.

Commercial vs Residential Door Schedules

In their basic formats, commercial and residential door schedules are similar. The principal difference is that given the complexity of large commercial projects and also the requirements of local building codes, commercial door schedules are typically longer and more detailed. They are more likely to include information such as the thickness of the door material and its fire rating as well as requirements, for example, that a door always be left unlocked for safety reasons.

Window Schedules

Here is an example of a window schedule:

As there are typically more windows in a house than doors, a window schedule will often be longer than a door schedule on residential projects. Much of the information on a window schedule is, however, similar to that in a door schedule. It describes the location of windows, their types, their dimensions, often the manufacturer’s model number or name, and details about the material that windows (and their frames) will be made of. As with a door schedule, additional notes may clarify the work expected of the contractor. 

Commercial vs. Residential Window Schedules

As with door schedules, the basic format of windows schedules in commercial blueprints and residential blueprints are the same. The main difference is, again, that a commercial window schedule will typically be a longer and more detailed document given the greater variety of window treatments, materials, installation requirements, and hardware on commercial projects. 

Often on the same sheet as the door and/or window schedule, or at least nearby, construction blueprints will include elevation drawings of the window and door types.

These drawings provide an easy visual reference for the contractor and crew so they can be sure they are installing the correct window in each location.


MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills.

A dado joint, also sometimes referred to as a housing joint, is a very strong type of carpentry joint commonly across a variety of woodworking projects and especially cabinets and shelving. A dado cut creates a channel that runs along the length of a workpiece into which a coordinating piece is secured. Once combined, you have a dado joint that can be glued and nailed for an even sturdier finish.

What is a dado joint?

Dadoes and grooves are both defined as a three-sided channel cut into a workpiece but a dado is cut across the grain of the wood and a groove is cut parallel to the grain of the wood. The channel, often referred to as a dado cut, receives another piece of material measured and cut to fit snugly inside the channel. Dado joints are simple to make and one of the strongest types of joints that can handle the weight of heavy books, appliances, and tools. 

Types of dado joints

There are a few different types of dado joints based on where the dado cut is made and how far it continues through the wood. The type of woodworking joints you choose will impact the finished look and the strength of the joint so consider where the cabinet or shelf will be installed and whether it will need to hold heavy duty or lightweight items.

Through joint

The through dado joint is the most common and cuts completely across the width of the board from edge to edge. It can be done with a table saw set up with a dado stack, a router and jig, or a router table.

Stopped joint

A stopped dado joint is the same channel type cut across the grain but it stops short of the edge of the wood. This is common when you want the joint connection to be concealed. It can be done with a table saw set up with a dado stack, a router and jig, or a router table. A table saw cut will require a lot of clean up with a chisel, so a router setup is recommended for a cleaner cut.

Rabbet and dado joint

A rabbet joint is a dado cut on the edge of a piece of wood that leaves a recess cut out along the edge. The dado cut receives the rabbet to make a joint that is stronger and more rigid than a standard through dado. It can be done with a table saw set up with a dado stack, a router and jig, or a router table.

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills.

There are two main categories of cabinet construction—face frame (or simply “framed”) and frameless. Both are functional construction methods with different advantages, so the choice is largely about what works for you. 

Face frame cabinets are built with a frame on the front of the cabinet where the cabinet doors will rest. Frameless cabinets are built without a frame so that when you look at the face of a frameless cabinet build, you will simply see the edges of the cabinet box.

What is a face framed cabinet?

Face frame cabinets do exactly that—they provide a frame for the face of the cabinet where all of the doors will attach and rest when they are closed. They are constructed with a frame that is attached to the front of the cabinet box and looks like a picture frame around the cabinet opening. There may also be a center stile running through the cabinet box so that when both the left and right doors are closed, there is no gap between them. 

Face frame cabinet construction is more common with American cabinet manufacturers and is a more traditional style choice. They are endlessly adaptable to different door styles and are a classic and durable choice.

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Advantages of face frame cabinets:

Disadvantages of face frame cabinets:

What is a frameless cabinet?

Frameless cabinets are constructed in a box shape without the addition of a frame on the face of the cabinet. They are easier and quicker to build because you do not have to build the face frames—plus, no special pocket hole screws needed. 

Frameless cabinet construction has a modern, European look compared to the traditional look of face frame cabinets. They can seamlessly blend into a room and are ideal for modern and contemporary home designs.

Upload image placeholderAdvantages of frameless cabinets:

Disadvantages of frameless cabinets:

How to choose the right type of cabinet construction

Choosing between face framed and frameless cabinets is largely about how you want your cabinets to look. As with choosing your cabinetry hardware and door overlay type, consider the overall style of your home when you’re choosing what type of cabinet construction is right for you.

Style

Face frame cabinets are considered to be a more traditional style but they are also adaptable to many different home styles and can accept almost any door and drawer front. The door and hinge type go a long way in defining the style direction of face frame cabinets. Frameless cabinets are the sleek, modern choice. Typically the hinges are hidden and there is no space between the doors and the frame which creates a super clean look.

Doors

The door style for frameless cabinetry is simple and sleek. They typically take full overlay doors, and that full overlay contributes to the modern look of frameless. Face framed cabinetry works with all three door overlay types so if you want more options for door types, go with face framed.

Storage

Although the difference in storage space between face frame and frameless cabinets is minimal, frameless cabinets offer slightly more space because there is no face frame overhang that takes up cabinet space.

Hardware

Concealed European style hinges are the most common for frameless cabinetry but any type will work. Any hinge type will work for face frame as well—try a visible hinge for an even more traditional American cabinet style.

Accessibility

Frameless cabinets offer full access to the interior of the cabinet without any obstructions which can be handy for storing large appliances. Sometimes, the center stile and face frame overhang of face frame cabinets can block access to the interior and are better for smaller items.

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills. 

Rabbets and dados are some of the most common ways to join together two pieces of wood in cabinet making, and they can be cut using a dado blade on a table saw like the step-by-step method below. 

Don’t let the blade name confuse you—a dado blade, or dado stack, is used to cut both dados and rabbets. You’ll also often hear carpenters use the phrase “dado out” which refers to how the dado blade carves a recess into the material no matter which type of joint you are making.

What is a rabbet joint?

A rabbet is a recess cut into the edge of a workpiece. The piece that extrudes is called the tongue. A rabbet joint is the result of joining a rabbet to another piece of wood, typically to construct shelving and cabinet boxes. Rabbet joints are great for building drawers, cabinets, and lighter items like a picture frame. They can be cut with a table saw, table mounted router, or hand held router with a rabbet bit or straight bit.

A rabbet joint is stronger than a typical butt joint—which is simply two straight edges joined together—because a rabbet provides more of a mechanical connection. Cutting the rabbet creates more surface area where the wood can be glued and therefore creates a stronger joint than simply nailing or gluing together two straight edges. For an even stronger rabbet joint, opt for a double rabbet joint where rabbets are cut into both edges of the adjoining workpieces.

Rabbet joints vs. dado joints

Rabbets and dadoes are both used all the time in carpentry, and they can even be combined to create a rabbet and dado joint. A dado is a three-sided channel cut into a workpiece. The channel, often referred to as a dado cut, receives another piece of material measured and cut to fit snugly inside the channel to create a dado joint. To make a rabbet and dado joint, the dado cut receives the rabbet to make a joint that is stronger and more rigid than a standard through dado. 

A dado joint is a very strong type of carpentry joint commonly used across a variety of woodworking projects—especially cabinets and shelving that need to be able to hold heavy items. The three sided channel (vs the two-sided surface of a rabbet) allows for even more surface for the adjoining piece of wood to make contact which in turn makes a stronger finished project.

The type of joint you choose will impact the finished look and the strength of the joint so consider where the cabinet or shelf will be installed and whether it will need to hold heavy duty or lightweight items.

How to cut a rabbet in 4 steps

A table saw with a stacked dado blade is a convenient and precise way to make joinery cuts of all types. A dado stack is like a sandwich of saw blades with ⅛ inch kerf saw blades on the outsides and ⅛ – 1/16 inch chippers on the inside. You can adjust the width of the dado stack to the width of your cut and thickness of the material by adding or subtracting the inside blades.

If you are working with a smaller table saw or simply aren’t comfortable making wider cuts in one pass, make multiple passes to get the width you need. If you only have a router table or a hand held routing tool, make sure to purchase the appropriate router bit for making rabbet cuts.

1. Set up the dado stack

When working inside of the saw, always make sure it is unplugged. Swap out the regular saw blade to a dado stack. The dado blade width should be a little over the thickness of the ¾ inch plywood, or whatever size plywood you are using. Cutting teeth should be facing toward you and offset the teeth from blade to blade. Check the blade for square and adjust as necessary.

2. Set up a sacrificial fence

Lower the blade completely and clamp a sacrificial fence to the rip fence to ensure that the cut goes through the entire thickness of the wood (and a little bit into the sacrificial fence). This will ensure a nice, clean cut in one pass.

3. Run a test cut

Switch from a tape measure to a metal ruler for more accurate measurements and set the dado blade to ½ inch depth, or adjust as needed for the size of your workpiece. Note: You should never make the depth of the rabbet cut deeper than a ½ inch into the thickness of the wood or it will weaken the joint and no more than ⅓ is considered best practice. Run a few test cuts and measure to confirm that there is a ¼ inch ledge, or whatever is desired for your project.

4. Make rabbet cuts

Dado out the backs of all four pieces and only the tops and bottoms of the side pieces. Cut with the pieces face down so that the cuts are on the inside of the cabinet. If you are following Ken’s measurements, the depth will be ½ inch in order to leave a ¼ inch of space for the tongue. Once you have a few rabbets cut, check the joint for fit and adjust your fence as needed.

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets.

Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills. 

It might not be the first thing you think about when contemplating a building, but the paths out of it—in the language of architects and contractors, the means of egress—are key features of every structure designed for occupancy, and they must be designated in commercial blueprints. Exits are central to safely evacuating a building during a fire or other emergency. They are also the subject of an entire chapter (specifically, chapter 10) of the International Building Code, or IBC—the basis of building codes in all 50 states.

The Three Parts of Egress

The IBC has specific definitions for three terms related to egress that contractors should know: exit, exit access, and exit discharge. (These terms are all defined in section 202 of the IBC.) 

  1. Exit access: This refers to the path to an exit—the route that leads to the exit stairways and horizontal exits, which lead to separate areas protected (say by a fire door) from a room where there is a hazard. 
  2. Exit: In the IBC, this term refers to the actual exit infrastructure of a building such as exit passages, ramps, and stairways. 
  3. Exit discharge: The last of the three parts of the egress system is where the exit meets a public way—in other words, the point where the occupant has left the building. 

How Many Exits Must a Room Have?

In section 1006.2, the IBC lays out the minimum number of exits required based on the maximum occupant load:

Widths of Means of Egress

Chapter 10 of the IBC also lays out minimum widths for the doors, corridors, and stairways that make up the means of egress. In buildings with a maximum occupancy load more than 50, the minimum width for stairways is 44 inches, or 1.1 meters, per section 1011.2; for doors, the figure is 32 inches, or 0.81 meters, per 1010.1.1; and for corridors, the minimum varies depending on use, as explained in 1020.1.2. Single family homes are always exempt from this rule. There’s also an exception for spiral stairs, which are only allowed to be used as a means of egress in certain circumstances.

You’ll then want to compare these figures with those in 1005.3.1 (which provides a minimum based on occupancy for stairways) and 1005.3.2 (which provides occupancy-based minimums for doors and corridors). In each case you will have to use the larger number when determining the widths of the corridors, doors, and stairways. 

Other Key Egress Provisions of the IBC

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills. 

If you’re building your own cabinets or replacing existing hinges, there are endless hinge types to choose from. Although they vary in size and application, there are two main categories: traditional hinges and European hinges. A butt hinge is the most common traditional hinge style—it’s likely that the front door to your home is hung with a butt hinge. It is a sturdy, classic type of hinge that is easy to find at your local hardware store and simple to install. 

What is a butt hinge?

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A butt hinge is a type of surface mount hinge that sits on top of the surface of the door material and does not need to be mortised or recessed to install. They are made of two mounting plates (also called leaves) and a barrel held together by a hinge pin. One of the plates mounts to the side of the cabinet box or door jamb and the other to the side of the door. When the door is closed, only the barrel is visible between the door and frame.

When to use a butt hinge

A butt hinge is a simple, durable, and reliable hinge option suitable for almost any type of door installation like cabinet doors, entry doors, and outside gates. They are also easy to install with no special tools. Here’s when to use a butt hinge over another hinge type:

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Different types of butt hinge

Although butt hinges are most commonly used as a standard door hinge, there are types of butt hinges that offer special features and functions such as self-closing or removable barrel pins. They also come in different finishes like stainless steel, brass, or colored metals and with optional decorative details like a ball tip.

If a butt hinge isn’t the right hinge for your project, there are many other hinge types that can help you get the job done. You can find specialty hinges like pivot hinges (for a door that swings both ways) or a completely concealed barrel hinge (for delicate projects like a handmade jewelry box). There’s a hinge for every type of door imaginable.

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like building cabinets. Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills.