It's OK to use just glue - and your finished piece may thank you for it

One thing I’ve come to realise with my making this year is so often you do not need tabs - that iconic laser look has it’s place both aesthetically and functionally - but not every piece needs it.

If you are gluing things together then often the glue will be as strong as you need.

You don’t always need super-tight joints.

You don’t always need finger tabs.

And for some projects these are either downright ugly, or are intrusive.

As examples: I have been making wooden boxes that open like books. I put a single sheet over the top of tab joins and it looks so much better.

I’ve also been making bird boxes - and these need 12mm or even 19mm walls (for insulation). Well if you are doubling up 6mm layers then you don’t really need tabs or joints at all. Just use butt joints offset in each layer. Looks so much nicer.

Also, avoiding tight-fit joints means you are much less sensitive to the vagaries of material thickness.

This technique also lets you build an inner carcass of cheap material and finish it on the exterior with something smart and expensive.

Anyway, just to say glue works too and just because 99.9% of all laser designs use finger tabs - doesn’t mean to say they all do.


I wholeheartedly agree! I’m not a big fan of finger joints and I resort to glue more often than not.


But tapping things into place is so SATISFYING! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:




Those who can, do
Those who can’t, glue

I kid, I kid. Glue is an integral part of any maker’s kit. Hot glue, PVA glue, wood glue, CA glue, rubber cement, contact cement, spray adhesive, you name it, it’s all got a place in my shop.


I glue no matter how tight the cutting is. Wood shrinks and swells so very tight one day and falling apart the next. When I was making those cylindrical lamps there can be a half inch difference in circumference which drove me crazy trying to make a base to fit into.

Butt joints are weak even when glued and one side of the corner will be end gain. End grain-end grain finger joints are maximum strength and resembles quoins as seen on major buildings. creating an image of quality even though they are usually “fake” in more recent architecture.

It is possible to shave one side or add fancy wood veneer to cover the fingers so the end-grain thickness is small enough to ignore but I still prefer the smaller fingers as a symbol of the strength that fingers add to the work.


Use finger joint with glue for strength, then cover with veneer for looks


This topic was automatically closed 32 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.