How to Make Reinforced Joints

This story looks at various methods of strengthening joints.

Some of the simplest joints you can make need help when required to hold heavy loads. A glued miter joint holds up well in a picture frame but isn't strong enough for the corner of a cabinet door or face frame without reinforcement, such as wood dowels. Miter joints reinforced with dowels hold better than glue alone. In some instances, they add visual appeal.

Similar techniques can reinforce many simple joints used to build utility shelving or casework. Use metal plates and brackets from the home center or hardware store, or make your own plywood gussets and wood corner blocks.

Even traditionally strong joints such as the mortise-and-tenon can be strengthened with a peg that locks the parts together.


Add strength to a miter joint with dowels. Glue and clamp the joint first and let dry. Drill dowel holes deep enough to penetrate both the joined pieces. Apply glue to the dowels and insert them into the holes, tapping as necessary. Saw off any protruding dowels and sand them flush.

Wood and Metal Gussets and Straps

Metal and wood reinforcements for simple joints are normally placed where they're inconspicuous, such as at the back of a bookcase or inside a cabinet. You might also consider these strengtheners to shore up old bookcases and other furniture. They take only minutes to install. Use brass or other decorative hardware when reinforcements can't be hidden.


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