First joint other than butt joint - mitered half-lap

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Blog entry by Chris McDowell posted 08-11-2012 02:46 PM 3687 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First, here’s the outcome:

Not perfect, but better than I expected on my first try.

I hand cut it with a Stanley miter saw that I found for $5 a few weeks ago. Not the best saw for this, I know, but I want to make a picture frame and don’t have a band clamp or anything, so I figured I would practice this type of joint, which I recently saw in a book, since it would give a better glue bond with the long-grain to long-grain surface area.

I’m showing my mistakes as well so that in the future I can look back and see how naive I was and how far I’ve progressed.

I started by cutting a 45 degree piece on the miter saw then made lines with a pencil on both pieces, clamped it down and started sawing.

After cutting them I realized there was a problem.

Oops, so first lesson I learned is that you have to cut on opposite sides. Silly me, I thought, and tried again.

Oops again. That didn’t work either. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. It’s probably obvious to you. I realized that one end needed to be square, so I tried again and finally ended up with the right orientation. Of course, it is not really square since I had to hand-cut the 45 degree piece off.

Also obvious is that the pieces do not go together well. I cut on the waste side on both pieces so I was left with a very uneven joint. I have not been able to sharpen the new chisels I bought because I don’t have all the sandpaper I need yet, but I figured I would give them a try anyway. I pared away to the lines as much as I could with dull edges. It was also the first time in my life I ever used chisels.

The chisels have some coating on them to keep them from rusting or something. You can see it coming off. I read somewhere that I should get some lacquer thinner and clean the coating off before I sharpen them or it would gum up the sandpaper.

Again, not perfect by any means whatsoever, but I got an awesome feeling of accomplishment out of this, which is what I started woodworking for anyway. I have a bunch of old scrap like this that I will probably practice on again and again until I get better. Sharp chisels will help also.

I’m thinking about starting the cuts with the miter saw, then finishing with the backsaw so that I can be sure the lines are straight. I really need a tenon saw or gent’s saw or something to get finer cuts.

Here’s the finished product again:

-- Chris, , FACEBOOK: , Proverbs 16:9

5 comments so far

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 2649 days

#1 posted 08-11-2012 03:37 PM

Man I like it as a new to the woodworking world your story strikes a cord I would have done the same thing. Nice joint, should make a nice picture frame

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 3078 days

#2 posted 08-11-2012 04:36 PM

Yeah, the stuff on the chisels is lacquer. If you wipe some of it off, it’ll save you a bit of sandpaper. ’’Make sure to oil or wax the tools after you sharpen. Those bare surfaces will rust. Paste wax works great, and you can use it for finishing.

Not a bad looking joint, really!

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2661 days

#3 posted 08-11-2012 05:19 PM

Not bad, Keep practicing and you will get the hang of it.


View Chris McDowell's profile

Chris McDowell

644 posts in 2537 days

#4 posted 08-11-2012 07:18 PM

Thanks for the comments. I actually finished 4 othrer joints for a frame. It was rough. I’ll add it to my projects when it’s done.

So, I’ll have to put lacquer thinner and paste wax on my shopping list. Thanks, tsangell, for the help.

-- Chris, , FACEBOOK: , Proverbs 16:9

View DocSavage45's profile


8814 posts in 3227 days

#5 posted 08-12-2012 05:44 PM

Wouldn’t be any fun if you did it perfect the fist timme. LOL Says a guy who has so much insight from mistakes he can walk backwards. Get the booj “Japanese Joinery” It even has a course in it for Japanese carpenters. Better wood, ie hardwood, will not splinter as much as pine or other common construction materials. But i am using up some of my construction materials as I too practice and make mistakes. :-)

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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