Whether you're building a shelf, door frame, or some other craft, learning how to strengthen joints is a crucial tool of the trade. We'll show you a few basic methods so you can always choose the right reinforcement.

January 26, 2019

Some of the simplest joints you can make need help when required to hold heavy loads. A glued miter joint holds up well in a picture frame but isn't strong enough for the corner of a cabinet door or face frame. That's where reinforcements come in. Dowels, metal plates, and gussets all work well. This handy guide walks you through some of the many strengthening options so you can pick the right reinforcement for your next carpentry project.

How to Strength with Dowels

Miter joints reinforced with dowels hold better than glue alone. In some instances, they also add visual appeal. To add strength to a miter joint with dowels, glue and clamp the joint first and let dry. Drill dowel holes deep enough to penetrate both the joined pieces. Apply glue to the dowels and insert them into the holes, tapping as necessary. Saw off any protruding dowels and sand them flush.

Similar techniques can reinforce many simple joints used to build utility shelving or casework. Even traditionally strong joints such as the mortise-and-tenon can be strengthened with a peg that locks the parts together.

How to Reinforce with Gussets and Straps

Metal and wood reinforcements for simple joints are normally placed where they're inconspicuous, such as at the back of a bookcase or inside a cabinet. You might also consider these strengtheners to shore up old bookcases and other furniture. They take only minutes to install. Use brass or other decorative hardware when reinforcements can't be hidden. Find metal plates and brackets at a home center or hardware store, or make your own plywood gussets and wood corner blocks.


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