OK so I decided to try the ultimate obfuscation – totally hidden fingers.
Here’s how it went:
Basically you engrave the fingers, essentially making them deep pockets, and have an “overhang” that conceals the cross fingers.
The tricky part is getting your engrave settings dialed in to make a pocket that very nearly comes all the way through your wood. There’s also some variation in the depth of the pockets that makes for a “wavy” bottom, which shows up on close examination of the joint from the side. This could probably be beaten with a cleanup pass or maybe a clever gradient for each pocket or perhaps multiple lower power passes.
Actually all you might need is a way to clean the pockets, the waviness may be just accumulated gunk. Q-tip with ammonia or something? Certainly getting rid of the fingers and just doing a concealed butt joint would get some of the benefits of alignment that you get in finger joints with the ease of assembly of a finger setup – but I digress, this thread is about the noble finger joint!
As a proof of concept, it’s not so bad, but would need work to be truly dialed in.
I also wonder how well this would do on a less uniform species of wood, probably be really tough to get the engrave right.