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How do you make pin joints without a router?

At WoodMarvels.com, we pride ourselves with providing great plans at an affordable price but even better, we try to make our wooden marvels as easy to produce as possible using the fewest steps from start to finishing. Unless otherwise indicated, most of our joint cuts are at 90 degrees and usually require no more then a good jigsaw, sharp woodworkers chisel, some glue and a drill as equipment. You will notice that we rarely have a need to use nails in our plans, the reason for this is:

  • our models aren’t usually supporting a load or under heavy stress
  • we use each piece of wood to re-enforce the other where they join, you will notice a heavy use of pins to achieve this
  • we tend to over-build our models, this is done on purpose so that they last as long as possible

What is the difference between pins and dovetails?

Although both are used extensively in the furniture building industries, you don’t see these types of joints very often in other applications. Basically, a pin, as illustrated above, are straight 90 degree cuts while dovetails are at an angle. The reason why they are used is as a re-enforcing mechanism, especially for drawers and they also look great. Other more advanced methods of creating structurally strong joints are by using biscuit joints, mitered joints, mortising chisel (using a drill press), mortise and tenon joint, lap joint and dowel joint. WoodMarvels.com has stayed away from these advanced methods so far in our models but we do use dowels in many of our plans to act as both a guide and re-enforcing method across multiple pieces of wood.

How do you make pins without a router?

Here is the easiest method for achieving the pin look using only the simplest of tools. Of course, if you do enough of these freehand, you will want to get yourself a jig and router but they aren’t essential. So far, none of our models are built using dovetails or more advanced joining methods because our goal at WoodMarvels.com is to keep things as easy as possible for the woodworker with a limited tool set.

Remember the rule, measure twice and cut once… well, always mark your cuts before you cut them.

Drill a pilot hole or as many as necessary for the length of the pin you want. This will save you a lot of wear and tear on your jig saw and nobody wants to chisel for hours on end. The reason why you drill your pilot holes FIRST is because you want to drill into a solid board, not one that has been cut before which is prone to vibration and shearing.

Now you are free to clear out the material within the outline you made previously. The easiest method is to cut 90 degrees into the board followed by cross-cuts. You can then use the chisel to get to harder to reach areas followed by rough sand paper if needed. Be sure to watch your hands during this process so as to not add a red stain to your wooden marvel!

Conclusion

That wasn’t so hard was it? Well, be sure to get lots of practice using scraps from your scrap wood pile before jumping onto a project, of course, there are other methods of producing these which we will cover another time.

The Bottom Line

If things seem as simple as they look, they usually are.