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How to make old-fashioned woodworking joints for vintage chairs.

Old-fashioned joints and techniques were used in old chairs. The doweling method and mortise and tenon joints were the most common ones.

step1: Dowel holes are drilled through both pieces to be joined, which can be a problem if one of them is thicker than the other. A drill bit with a stop collar must be used so that the holes are drilled at equal depth. If a doweling jig is not available, the piece can be held in place with a holdfast or Kreg Jig system, as long as there’s enough space for clamps.

Step 2: A drill bit with a stop collar is also used to drill dowel holes through the other piece, which must be at least as thick as the dowel.

Step 3: When the dowel holes are drilled, glue is applied to one of them, and a dowel pin is pressed into place with a hammer. A brad-pointed workpiece prevents possible splitting by allowing the handle of the hammer to exert pressure on all surfaces.

Step 4: The dowel pin is trimmed flush with the surface using a sharp chisel and sandpaper. Flushing the end of the dowel with sandpaper must be done before inserting it in order to prevent breakage while tapping it into place.

Step 5: A mortise hole is drilled in one piece, and a tenon is cut on the other. A doweling jig or a stop collar is used as a guide for drilling the hole to prevent it from going all the way through.

Step 6: The chisel’s blade should be at a 45-degree angle to size up the mortise. The width of the mortise should be a few thousandths of an inch larger than the tenon.

Step 7: A chisel with a round blade is used to clean out the corners, and then amortize router plane is used to smooth it out. The handle of this plane can also function as a depth gauge. When the piece is finished, it should slide into the mortise with little or no resistance.

A pin nail tenon is used for joining thick pieces together, where dowels are not practical. The exterior of this joint looks like a regular mortise and tenon joints, but it does not go all the way through to the other side.

Step 8: Pin nail tenons are used on pieces that are at least as thick as the nails. A spacer is placed between them, and they must be kept in place by hand or clamps.

Step 9: The workpiece with the pins is rotated 45 degrees so that the chisel can trim along one side of each pin to remove excess material. It is very important to keep the piece in place so that it does not shift while trimming.

Step 10: The chisel’s blade should be at a 45-degree angle when sizing up the tenons, and it must be held perpendicular to the surface when cutting. The length of this joint should be minimal. A router plane is used to clean up the tenons and bring them flush with one another. The handle of the plane can be used as a depth gauge, and its blade lowers or raises against the surface depending on which direction it is moved.

Once all of the woodworking joints have been completed, sanding must begin in order to bring the chair together. The surface of each piece must be smooth and even before the next step, which is veneering.

woodworking joints used in vintage chair construction.

1. Doweling

2. Mortise and tenon joints

3. Pin nail tenons    (This is a very difficult process)    4. Dovetail joints

(a) Mallet method: used when making dovetails in crooked or crotched wood; the mallet forces the pieces together for strong joinery.

(b) Pinned dovetail joint: is used in making drawers. This is a useful method for beginners because the pinning holds the pieces of wood together, allowing the joinery to be removed if there are mistakes in construction.

5. Dovetailed steel tenons    (used in modern carpenters, since it’s impossible to hand saw a dovetail in steel)

6. Tongue and groove joint

For additional context: This article is a part of the larger “Vintage Chair” section on how common types of joints are used in the construction of various antique chairs.


There are many different types of woodworking joints that can be used between pieces of wood. Each type is useful in certain situations. Dowel joints are strong, easy to construct, and do not require any special equipment. Mortise and tenon joints are strong and durable but require the use of more modern tools such as router tables for creating mortises and a lathe for creating tenons. Pin nail tenon joints have the advantage of being strong but largely require hand tools for construction and are thus mainly used by beginners because it requires less equipment to accomplish accurately. Dovetail joints can make very strong glue connections, especially when glued dowels are used, but require more time to construct accurately. Tongue and groove joints are used for joining pieces of wood where one-piece has a tongue or protrusion on its width. Dovetailing steel tenons is difficult because it cannot be done by hand, but it can make very strong glue connections in steel construction. Each type of joint has pros and cons, but each is useful depending on the needs of the project.

What makes this article complex is the range of old world woodworking joints called for, which require more time and special tools to construct than modern techniques (i.e. dowel joinery vs. biscuits)

What makes this article useful is that it provides information on how to make various types of woodworking joints used in write a blog conclusion on How to make old-fashioned woodworking joints for vintage chairs.

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