I had to duck under a retired diving flag that indicated a low beam under the oldest part of what is now our 140-year-old farmhouse, as I followed the seller during a walk-through. Lit by a couple of buzzing fluorescent fixtures, he showed me the remains of his workshop that he had mostly given away in preparing the house for sale. What was left was a wall of fasteners – old coffee cans of nails and screws that clearly had a storied past. It appeared that many were original to the house, their gorgeous patina and form made that obvious, and some were purchased new for everyday tasks. I quickly told him that I was OK with inheriting this trove.
I must admit, my background in manufacturing and DIY never left me wondering if there were ways of making two pieces of wood stick together without a fastener of some sort. A 5-pound bucket of drywall screws would have been all I needed for a lifetime of “woodworking.” Little did I know there was a world of joinery patiently waiting for me to put down the impact driver and pick up the marking gauge.
Below is a fun chart I discovered in one of my recent treks through our back-issues for another project. It gives a clear illustration of various types of casework joinery and a short explanation of the benefits of each joint. A graphic like this illuminates the many possibilities that we run through in our mind – perhaps it is not necessary for you – but I make better decisions when I see all of the options before me. Here is a free PDF download of the graphic. Print it out and keep it in the shop somewhere!
If this type of graphic is helpful for you, consider picking up a copy of Woodworking Essentials. It covers many timeless techniques that every woodworker should know.