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Mitered Butt Joints - A Cleaner Butt Joint

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Mitered Butt Joint (c) 2006 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.
The butt joint is the most basic woodworking joint, where two pieces of wood are butted together (most often at a right angle to one another), but it isn't the most prettiest of joints, since the end grain of one of the two boards will be visible. When you want a more attractive option, try a mitered butt joint. It won't be any stronger than a standard butt joint, but you won't see the end grain.

Angles Must be Precise:

As in a basic butt joint, the most important aspect of creating a mitered butt joint is to cut the angles precisely. For this, you'll need a compound miter saw.

The first step is to determine the final angle of the joint and divide that number by two. For a square connection (90-degrees), you'll need to make a 45-degree angle cut on each of the two boards to be joined. If the two pieces of stock are exactly the same width, the two cut ends should match up perfectly.
You can also use mitered butt joints when creating other joints of other angles. For example, if you were making an octagonally-shaped picture frame, each of the eight angles would be 45-degrees (rather than 90-degrees in the previous example). As such, you would cut 22 1/2-degree angles on each end to create the butt joints.

Glue Holds the Joint:

As in a basic butt joint, the glue is the means for holding the joint. However, because both sides of the glue joint will be on porous end grain, you will likely need to use more woodworking glue than when gluing on side grain.

TIP: Be sure to dry-fit your pieces before applying glue, to ensure a proper fit. For instance, if you're making a picture frame, cut all lengths and angles and cross-check the frame for squareness and make sure that the joints have no gaps before applying glue.

Use Mechanical Fasteners for Strength:

As with a basic butt joint, there isn't a lot of strength in a mitered butt joint. As such, you may wish to strengthen the joint by using nails, brads or screws to give lateral strength to the joint. If using hardwood, remember to pre-drill before installing screws to avoid splitting.
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