Rabbet joints may not be the prettiest of wood joints, but sometimes they’re just the best option you have. Here’s how (and when) to use them.
Dovetail and mortise and tenon joints get lots of love (for good reason), but when you need a rabbet joint nothing else will do. A rabbet is closely related to the Dado joint, as they both cut a recess into a piece of wood, but a rabbet joint is done at the edge. It’s that simple. A rabbet can be used to attach the back edge of a cabinet so it fits flush with the sides. A rabbet can also be used around the edge of a window frame.
You can cut rabbets on a table saw using a dado joint as shown in the video above, or using a standard saw blade (you’ll just have to make more passes with the wood). Routers with a rabbeting bit can also cut very clean rabbet joints.
Marc Spagnulo of the Wood Whisperer likes to take it a step further by using hand tools (such as a shoulder and rabbet plane) to fine tune the initial cut. He calls this hybrid woodworking which starts a project with a power tool then finishes it with a hand tool. This technique adds a level of precision to your pieces.
If you are new to woodworking, a rabbet joint is great to learn with and a joint you’ll never outgrow.
How to Cut a Rabbet Joint [The Wood Whisperer (YouTube)]
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