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Halving Joint


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For a ‘halving joint’ the tools you will need are:-
1. Tenon Saw
2. Marking Gauge
3. Try Square
4. Sharp Bevel Edge Chisel
5. Pencil
6. Stanley Knife
7. Ruler/Tape Measure
8. Hammer/Wooden Mallet

This halving joint is very strong, stronger then tenons or dowels. The two pieces to be joined are the same thickness and width.


Step1:- Marking Out!

First, take your try square and pencil and mark the face and edges as shown in the picture to the right:-

The distance between the lines is the width of the mating piece.


Next you need to find out half the thickness of your timber by dividing the total thickness by 2. After you have this you need to set your marking gauge to it. (right ->)

You now need to use your marking gauge and gouge a ‘halfway’ line between the two lines on both edges. A good tip so you don’t go passed the line is to, put a small indentation just before the line using your marking gauge – so when you gouge the line, the pin on the marking gauge should fall into it, therefore stopping you going too far.

When using the marking gauge it’s best to hold it at a slight angle and to take several light passes. By doing this you should be left with a nice straight gouge line. (right)

Now you might think you don’t need to mark out the waste but do, as it saves you making mistakes later on.

Once you’ve marked the lines with a pencil, score the two lines on the face (top) with a knife (wasteside).

Step2:- Cutting The Shoulders!

Clamp the piece firmly into a bench vice or workmate and cut the shoulder lines – making sure you cut on the wasteside and that you don’t go past the halfway line.



Step3:- Chiseling Out The Waste!

After you’ve cut the shoulder lines, take a bevel edge chisel and place it slightly above the halfway line (bevel side up). Making sure you are holding the chisel level, tap it into the wood with a hammer. At least half the waste to be removed should have popped up (below). Remove that half,
un-clamp the workpiece and turn it around and work from the other side.


Now just work your way down to the halfway line, taking your time, don’t rush it.

Once your happy with it do the mating piece, after that do a try-fit. If its a bit tight, take a bit more off with a chisel.

*Note: When marking out, mark the mating piece at the same time, cut the shoulder lines all at the same time as well.


Mr X

I am surprised you have made no comment about consistency of approach by using datum marks, face side and face edge, then it would not matter if the halving is not in the middle but always the same distance from the face side on both pieces of wood!

Also by taking out such a large “chunck” with the chisel in one go you are in frequent danger of causing more wood to be removed than you want, especially at the far side of the joint.

A more careful approach of chiselling upwards from both sides to produce a “roof shape” and then levelling off to just past the middle, working from both sides, is, I feel the best advice to give a novice.

As for having the chisel bevel up to remove the first chunk of the waste is asking the the chisel bevel to be forced down into the wood we want to keep. Having the bevel, initially in the bevel down position will overcome the digging in process and help to produce the roof shape I mentioned above.

Only in the final stage of the removal of the last two or so millimetres would I advise having the chisel in the horizontal plane.


Pete Curtis

Mr X

I couldn’t agree more about the bevel down, that’s how I was taught at school 40 years ago and how I taught my sons and will teach my grandchildren. keep up the good work everyone ,it’s the tutorial and the constructive comments that help the yougsters learn how do woodwork properly. Phil Andrews.