Guide about Joining Wood with Wood Router

Woodworkers regard a wood router as the most versatile and portable tool in the shop. Other tools such as a cordless drill or the circular saw and others may be used for a number of uses, but none of these can compete with the router when it comes to diversity. In this guide about joining wood with the wood router, we shall delve into details about the joints made using a wood router and are used to join wood.

Advantages of Using Routers for Joinery

Routers were initially designed for the creation of molded shapes but they can still be used for making excellent joinery in wood. In fact, they perform better than some other tools such as table saws, dado cutters, and professional mortisers when it comes to making joinery. It offers the following advantages:

  • Simplicity: It is quite a breeze to set up the router, whether hand-held or table-mounted. This is unlike other joint-making tools such as the hollow-chisel that are usually complicated to use and need more time to set up.
  • Versatility: No other tool can make a wide variety of joints like the wood router. The router has the capability of cutting more types of joints, unlike any other tool. This applies to both the plunge and fixed base router.
  • Precision and accuracy: No other woodworking tool is as precise and accurate as the wood router. The router cuts quickly and leaves a smooth surface. Therefore, the joints will fit perfectly and bond strongly.

Types of joints used to join Wood with Wood Router

The router has the capability of making excellent joints such as:

Blind Mortise and Tenon Joint

This is one of the strongest joints used primarily for leg and rail construction. The recommended way for cutting the tenon is to cut it on the end of the rails.  The ideal tenon thickness is about ½ inch the thickness of the stock that ranges to up to one inch in thickness. For a stock that is over one-inch thickness, the tenon thickness should be less by 1-1/2 inch in proportion to the stock thickness. The tenon should also be ¾ inch.

The mortise should have similar dimensions as the tenon. However, the mortise has to be 1/8 inch deeper when compared to the tenon length. Some other variations of this type of joint include barefaced, angled, open, and through.

The mortise should be cut using a plunge router. During the first pass cut the mortise halfway then finish all the way on the second pass. You can apply the same procedure when cutting any other wood type. What you have to do I too just adjust the router bit size.

For the Tenon, you simply place the piece of wood flat on the work table and clamp it. You then run the router across the piece of work. Turn the other side, clamp it and run the router again. Sand the piece of work if necessary and then using a utility knife round off the corners of the tenon joint. You need the straight bit, upcut spiral bit, and mortising bit to prepare this type of joint.

Finger Joint

This type of wood joint is like the dovetail joint but is quite easy to make it. The dovetail is tapered whereas the finger joint is cut straight. The wood worker does not need a dovetail or router jig in order to make this joint. It is used in box and drawer construction. The fingers should be cut to uniform size on each of the adjoining boards so that the joint becomes stronger. It is one of the strongest joints and does not require glue for strength.

To cut perfect finger joints using a wood router, you need some special bits referred to as finger joint bits. These bits can cut finger-like extensions that create some extensions that can be used for splice joints and super edge joints. You need a router table when making finger joints.

Lap Dovetail Joint

You can use your wood router to make this joint. All you need is the router, dovetail bit, a template, and a dovetail jig. The dovetail jig is used to hold the ends of two boards. You will then use the router to cut the dovetail joints in the pieces of wood. The template is useful in determining the placement of each of the dovetails being cut. Dovetails are usually tapered so as to give the joint a strong link.

Dovetail joints are used for making expensive drawer construction, where the sides of the joint are visible and the only the drawer front is required. This type of joint is used for making expensive boxes, small chests, and trays.

Dovetail router bits are used for cutting dovetail joints. While using your router to cut dovetails, the same concept is used as when making a traditional joint. However, this joint looks more of the tongue and groove joint. For you project to be successful, you should plan your layout including the size, number, angle, and of the dovetails.

Rabbet Joint

This type of joint is useful when making boxes and drawers. It is made by cutting a dado on one part of the board then another board is fitted into the dado. This joint is normally strengthened using wood screws, staples, or nails. You can use your wood router to make this joint.

The type of router bits needed for making a rabbet joint include the straight bit and the rabbet bit. The wood router can cut rabbets perfectly without measuring and can cut narrow edges and curved edges for the rabbet joint.

Dado Joint

This kind of joint involves cutting a dado, across grain where it is required instead of cutting it on the end of the board. Dado joints are used when making bookcases, cabinets, or even in instances when shelving support is required. You can make an excellent dado joint using your wood router.

You should have your safety glasses and earmuffs on when making the dado joint. Plug in your router and set the base on your piece of work. Ensure the edge lies against the fence and the bit is clear. You can then switch on the router and advance it into the work piece. A straight bit will do a perfect job when routing a dado joint.

Miter joint

This is made by joining two boards at one corner at an angle of 90 degrees. Using the router, you cut each end of the board to a 45-degree angle then join them at their end. This way you will get the 90-degree angle. It is used when making frames such as picture frames. These joints may be weak but they can be strengthened by adding a biscuit or spline. Other tools such as a radial arm saw and a table saw can also be used when making a miter joint.

Precision is critical when making miter joints. You have to make perfect measurements and calibrate the machine well before executing the project. Lapped miter joint router bits can be used when making a miter joint.  

Other joint types

Some of the other popular joints that are made using a wood router include Edge Joint and Butt joint. These joints are quite weak and require some additional support. They are also quite easy to make and need a little effort.


Using your wood router you can handle literally any kind of wood working project. You can make perfect wood joints using the wood router once you understand the various types of joints you can make and how to make them. Dozens of online resources are available for woodworkers and with the right guide about joining wood with the wood router, it becomes so much easier to accomplish this.

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