Four perfectly formed joints

In the world of cabinetmaking, joinery makes or breaks a kitchen design, which is why we are very particular when it comes to joints.

At Vale Designs, we mainly use four different types of joints. So, we thought we’d go behind the scenes to explain a bit more about where we use them and how we make them.

Hands holding a mortice and tenon joint
Tenon Joint

Mortise & Tenon Joint

Considered to be one of the strongest joints, we use mortise and tenon joints for cabinet doors and frames. Cabinetmakers have used this particularly strong type of joint for more than 7,000 years.

A little known fact is that the thirty sarsen stones of Stonehenge were dressed as mortise and tenon joints before they were erected between 2600 and 2400 BC.

The technique involves a mortise cavity cut into a piece of wood to receive a tenon joint. At Vale Designs, we primarily use mortise and tenon joints when adjoining wood at right angles.  

Given the precise and tight cutting required, creating a seamless joint takes a lot of skill. As seen in the videos below, Andy and the team use a specialist tenoner machine to create the tenons and a mortiser machine to cut the mortise (the slot). The result is a perfectly formed joint designed to withstand the test of time.

Cutting the Tenon
Cutting the Mortise and putting them together

Dovetail Joint

Just like the mortise and tenon joint, the dovetail joint is known for its strength and attractive finish.

Given its resistance to withstand being pulled, we use dovetail joints within all our kitchen drawers. A series of precisely cut ‘pins’ extend from the drawer front and back panels that interlock with a series of ‘tails’ cut into the sides of the drawer. Together, the pins and tails create a trapezoidal shape that, once glued, requires no mechanical fasteners.

Creating a dovetail joint requires precision, which is why we use an adjustable dovetail router jig to create a perfect fit.

Open drawer showing dovetail joint
Dovetail Joint

Tongue & Groove Joint

You’ll already have seen plenty of tongue and groove joints. They are typically used to join two flat pieces of wood together to make a single flat surface (for example, wooden flooring). Each piece has a slot (the groove), which is cut along one edge. The tongue (a thin deep ridge) on the opposite piece of wood slots into the groove.

At Vale Designs, we use tongue and groove joints for decorative purposes on furniture backboards and pot boards, which can be a wonderful addition to a kitchen island (as pictured below).

Walnut end shelf on kitchen island
Tongue and Groove Pot Board

Biscuit Joints

If ever there was a name for a joint that sounds just right for kitchen cabinet making, it would have to be the biscuit joint.

We use biscuit joints to fix the front frame onto the main cabinet box section (known as the carcass). First, we cut a crescent-shaped hole (a slot) in the front frame and carcass using a specialist power tool called a biscuit jointer. Next, a biscuit (a oval piece of wood) is glued and placed in the slot, and the front and main frame are carefully clamped together.

Biscuit Jointer
Biscuit Joint

Come and see work

You are welcome to come and visit our workshop in Aldringham. In fact, we encourage our clients to stop by and see their kitchen taking shape. It’s quite a memorable experience.

Remember though, if you are planning on popping along, just give us a call first so that we can make sure we’re able to show you around and pop the kettle on!