Simple locking tab joints

I wanted to make a way to lock a structure together that was fairly strong and could be dissembled with no tools.

This is an early (very rough) prototype of that effort.

I refined the design to use smaller pegs and a more robust rounded center tab in a holiday gift, but the prototype pieces illustrate the concept pretty well. The whole thing was cut out of birch ply.

If you attempt something like this beware that hardwoods will break very easily across their grain. Orient and scale your tabs accordingly… but I think your best results will be with plywood.

Go forth and be inspired :slight_smile:


Yep, grain is definitely a big deal.

If the material you’re doing has some flex, you can do tabs that compress into place and then lock, but those have to be designed carefully if you’re ever going to unlock them.

LIke so?

This was during that same experimentation. I found that the locking tabs added a lot more rigidity to the joint, so I went with them.


If you are not already familiar with this check it out. 50 cnc joints, about half of them are suitable for laser, more if you are willing t laminate.


Yeah that site is really good. I posted about another similar joinery guide here:


Bookmarking this thread, looks like a good one.

Cool! :grinning:

While playing around with locking tabs, (I used to call them “snaps”, but this is a better name) I also noticed that they work best with plywood. Makes sense, because the plys have alternating grain directions.

I actually see a lot of potential with the first design, because the wedge shaped tabs can hold the pieces together tightly with less consideration about kerf. It would also be easier to take apart.

I’m thinking about molds for epoxy resin. As much as I enjoy making things with the Glowforge, woodturning is my first love (creatively speaking). I have been thinking of using the Glowforge to make custom molds for some of my more ambitious turning ideas.

So, both designs are pretty darn cool. :smile:

1 Like

I used the glowforge to make simple epoxy mold for pen turning, acrylic positive layers sanded smooth, negative cast in silicone, then the silicone mold used to make resin blanks.

This was needlessly complicated when you can buy a simple rectangular mold on amazon for almost nothing. As an economic argument, it’s just dumb to buy a several thousand dollar laser cutter and the pressure pot and even the silicone to end up the same place you can spend 17$ to get to.

As for complicated molds, I can’t wait to see what you make.

Oh also, be sure you read that whole thread, there are 2 relevant links to a whole lot more joinery.

1 Like