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3-way mitre joint-any tips?

Jim_MacMahon's picture

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I'm developing a prototype table for use next to a chaise lounge and would like to incorporate some interesting details -- like joining the legs to the rails with 3-way mitre joints instead of M&T, half-lap mitres, or other. My references only show a Chinese joint with 45-degree joined edges on the exterior of the joints and several complicated tenons on the interior. Does anybody have a better idea?

Danford_C._Jennings's picture

(post #106053, reply #1 of 12)

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Jim,

i "...3-way mitre joints instead of M&T, half-lap mitres, or other."

I think you pretty much eliminated all except the 3 way mitered Chinese joint you mentioned. The only other joint I can think of is a sculptured joint, ala Sam Maloof. Don't know if that qualifies as "other".

i Fine WoodWorking
, vol. #25 had a feature story on Mr. Maloof and it describes how he does the joint using a hand held router. Ernest Joyce also describes this joint in his
i The Encyclopedia of Furniture Making.
FWIW.

Dano

Mike_Maines's picture

(post #106053, reply #2 of 12)

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Jim, there was another FHB article by Christian Beksvoort (sp?). He did what looked like a 3-way miter by first mitering every rail to 2 legs, so he had 4 u-shaped frames. Then he mitered the long grain of the legs and glued them together, so each leg is "L"-shaped in cross section. Seemed like a pretty clever solution.

Mike

Arthur_Radley's picture

(post #106053, reply #3 of 12)

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Mitered Showcase Joint, page 57, Rodale's Illustrated Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton. Hylton's joint uses loose tenons, very easy to execute. Good for a small table.

Danford_C._Jennings's picture

(post #106053, reply #4 of 12)

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Arthur,

That was my first thought too. Didn't know if that fell under "mitres" or "other".

Dano

Jim_MacMahon's picture

(post #106053, reply #5 of 12)

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Guess I'd better delete "other" (pie on face). What I meant was other common joinery, like nails (small joke). My objective was a simple one. Since this is to be a small table with practically no stresses in use and, therefore, no need to necessarily consider the strongest kind of joint, maybe I could execute some kind of decorative joint. After looking at the Chinese joint, which must be close to 100% hand made, I wondered if something easier might come close. For example, a 3-way joint made with biscuits (which won't work in this case because the legs and rails are 2X2 inches and won't have enough purchase room after the 45-degree angles are cut -- I made a mockup to check this). Figuring some of you guys might have a better idea, I posted the question. I'm going to see if I can locate the references above. Thanks for those. Let me know if something else comes to mind. Jim

woodworking_studios's picture

(post #106053, reply #6 of 12)

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knock down miter joints are truly masterful

David_A._Brown's picture

(post #106053, reply #7 of 12)

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It's possible to run three dowels thru a 3-way miter after the joint is glued up. You have to offset then slightly so that they'll pass each other. I actually put one in, then intersect it slightly with the second one, then intersect both of those with the last one. You'll have a round dot (the end of the dowel) on the face of each miter, but if you use 3/8" dowels and sink them a little below the surface you can cut hardwood plugs to cap them with to match your main wood. For that matter, you can hide a screw under that plug. The screws will ensure the joint never somes apart. You asked for simple.

Mock one up. Use dowel lengths that are at least 3" thru your 2" legs, and you'll be amazed at how much harder it gets to break that three-way miter.

Dave

Jim_MacMahon's picture

(post #106053, reply #8 of 12)

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OK, Dave -- that sounds about as practical (and creative) as any that I've come across since starting this search. I'll definitely put a check mark on it. Dano mentioned something called the "showcase joint", also, which is another name for this kind of thing and I'm looking into variations of it. Thanks for your input. Jim

rickster's picture

(post #106053, reply #9 of 12)

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dovetailed key wayss look pretty slick andare not thathard to do

CStanford_'s picture

(post #106053, reply #10 of 12)

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American Woodworker has an article on cutting a showcase joint in a past issue. I don't have the volume no. but do a search on their website. Step-by-step instructions were presented in the article.

Jim_MacMahon's picture

(post #106053, reply #11 of 12)

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To all who offered help: Thanks to John Stegall, I've used the article in FWW #56 (Jan/Feb '86) by John Kriegshauser entitled "Console Table" to fabricate a table using the 3-way miter joint he describes. This joint is similar in concept to the Chinese joint except it is made mostly at the table saw and all of the parts -- rails and legs -- are the same. It is truly a remarkable concept and results in exactly the kind of joint I was looking for. Dano has called this a showcase joint (as I recall). I've made a poplar prototype of my table design using the joint and will now execute the design in cherry. If any of you would like to see this joint, as shown in the article, I'll take some pix of the details and scan them in a couple of days. One word of caution . . . there is a very important detail not mentioned in the article; you must rotate the rails 90 degrees when cutting them. The joints are all the same, but the rails must have them at 90 degrees to one another in order to fit into the legs and mate with the next rail. This has been a real learning experience for me and I appreciate all of you offering help. Jim

David_A._Brown's picture

(post #106053, reply #12 of 12)

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Definitely post some pictures. I've got a pretty good imagination, but it's getting old. Some thousand-words worth pictures will help.

Thanks

Dave