No matter how you cut them, understand their subtleties to make a smooth-moving joint.
By Willard Anderson
The rule joint is elegant in its apparent simplicity and is a classic element of fine furniture. Much of what has been written on rule joints – or table joints as they’re often called – is from the power-tool perspective. While there’s nothing wrong with cutting this joint using power tools – a process I’ll discuss later – the way to truly learn about this joint is to cut it by hand using layout techniques and tools that craftsmen of the 18th and 19th century used. Once you understand the subtleties of this joint, you’ll be able to achieve better results no matter how you cut them.
What is a Rule Joint?
The rule joint gets its name from its similarity to the brass joint in folding rules. With a rule joint, the round portion of the joint provides support for the drop leaf and, when the drop leaf is lowered, eliminates the unsightly gap between the drop leaf and the tabletop. The joint is composed of a fillet at the top, a quarter-round profile on the tabletop side of the joint, a mating cove and a land on the drop-leaf side (see the illustration at right on the next page).
Blog: Get more information on hinge placement and how it affects the joint.
Video: Episode 3203 (Table Joints Rule!) of “The Woodwright’s Shop” features Willard Anderson and will air later this year.
Blog: Discover more good resources for drop-leaf hinges in many finishes and price ranges.