Rabbet Joint – 5 Easy Ways to Make a Rabbet Joint

A rabbet joint is mostly prominent in furniture and cabinet construction as well as other woodworks. Furthermore, it helps to give your design an aesthetic look as you can opt for glue over other mechanical fasteners.

Nonetheless, to properly complete a rabbet joints, you need to consider some factors. Some of them are the types of rabbet joint, tools, and how to conveniently cut. 

Eventually, after reading this article, you will be able to make a great rabbet joint on your own.

Two rabbet cuts.

Figure 1: Two rabbet cuts. 

Section 1: What is the rabbet joint?

If you work in the construction industry, most especially with wood, then a rabbet joint should sound familiar. A rabbet joint is a rectangular recess created at the edge of a wood to flush with another wood. Rabbet joints are useful in the construction of picture frames, cabinet doors, drawers.

Section 2: Basic types of rabbet joint

When about to make a rabbet joint in your ongoing project, you must take time to choose the appropriate type. Therefore, a good understanding of the types of rabbet joints available will go a long way. Consequently, you can set out to make the best rabbet joints that fit the project at hand. 

2.1 Basic rabbet

It is the simplest form of a rabbet joint. When joining two planks of wood, only one has a rabbet while the other does not. Instead, the rabbit’s depth is such that it allows for the second wood to sort of flush. It means the rabbit’s depth on the first wood must be equal to the second wood’s thickness. With a table saw, wood router, or hand, you can make a basic rabbet joint. 

Finally, use mechanical fasteners over just glue because it is long grain to end grain connection. 

A basic rabbet joint.

Figure 2: A basic rabbet joint.

2.2 Double rabbet

It is directly opposite of the basic rabbet joint. Unlike just one rabbet cut on one wood, both mating planks of wood have a rabbet cut for a solid connection. The joint connection is stronger in this case than in the basic rabbet. For this reason, there is more area for joinery available with a double rabbet than the basic rabbet. More area is available via the two-way 90-degree cut on both mating planks of wood.

You need a higher accuracy for this type of rabbet joint (measurement and cutting) for proper flushing. For this reason, a table saw, or a wood router is best for making this rabbet joint. 

Ultimately, it is more rigid and stronger, especially for tall bookcases.

Double rabbet joint ready for gluing.

Figure 3: Double rabbet joint ready for gluing. 

2.3 Mitered rabbet

It is more complex than a basic and double rabbet joint. It came at an angle and used at critical points, which makes it more attractive. A table saw or wood router will also conveniently make this rabbet joint but with more care and attention. A 45-degrees cut at the corners of the mating woods differentiates the mitered and double rabbet. 

In one piece, the rabbet is cut to half the material’s depth and width equal to the material’s full thickness. Similarly, the rabbet is cut to one-half the material’s depth and width on the other piece. 

Section 3: What tools can cut the rabbet joint?

Each of these tools can cut any of the rabbet joints stated in section 3 above.

  • Table saw
  • Handheld wood router
  • Wood router table

Other tools for marking-out the rabbet dimension and smoothening the rabbet includes:

  • Pencil
  • Metre rule
  • Shoulder plane
  • Router plane

Section 4: How to cut the rabbet joint?

There are four broad methods of cutting a rabbet joint highlighted in this section with detailed explanations. Hence, you can select from them based on your preference.

4.1 Cutting a rabbet joint with a table saw

You can use either a dado set or standard blade. Here are the details below:

4.1.1 Table saw with a dado set.

A dado set is a special tool that produces an accurate rabbet at mostly one pass. Although a dado set takes a while to install, it is worthwhile when there are several workpieces. When using this method, you should cover part of the blade with another piece of wood. This approach protects the fence and prevents damage. 

4.1.2 Table saw with a standard blade

This is another method of rabbet making involving table saws. It occurs with about two passes of the circular blade through the wood. Firstly, place the workpiece horizontally against the blade for the first pass (required depth). Secondly, you turn it vertically for the second pass to complete the rabbet (required width). This method is faster and does not require any special set up, especially when there are few workpieces. 

A rabbet cut with a standard blade.

Figure 4: A rabbet cut with a standard blade.

4.2 Cutting a rabbet with a handheld router

Generally, a router always gives clean and smooth interior cuts. In a case like this, a router is very excellent to make a rabbet. You will not find any scratches or marks when you use a router.

One of the handheld router perks is that you can make a rabbet joint along a curve. In essence, it is flexible to use and can cut rabbits of varying width by changing the pilot bearing. Various widths of the rabbit bits are on sale up to about 1/2”. Furthermore, for rabbet joints, a special bit called a rabbeting bit is needed.

4.3 Cutting a rabbet with a router table

Besides making rabbits with a rabbeting bit and router, a router table with a straight bit is a viable option. With the help of a feather board or push stick, you can hold down the workpiece for the cut. In contrast to the handheld router, the router table has some significant advantages. 

Firstly, a router table has a fence, which would help guide the workpiece during the cut. With this, you can boast of a perfectly straight cut. Secondly, a router table can produce a rabbet joint of up to 1’’ in depth and width. 

Figure 5: A rabbet cut in progress with a straight router bit.

Figure 5: A rabbet cut in progress with a straight router bit.

4.4 Cutting a rabbet with a jointer.

A jointer can cut rabbet joints as wide as 1’’ and as deep as ½’’. Its cut is usually perfectly smooth along an outside edge. But to cut deeper, a table saw can help make an initial cut before using the jointer to continue. Also, the rabbit’s width should match the adjusted fence to blade distance. With this setup in place, begin your cut at no more than 1/8’’ removed per pass. Finally, this setup will prevent unnecessary hammering between the workpiece and jointer’s knife-head.

Summary

In conclusion, we have talked about the various approaches to cut a rabbet joint. But we have also discussed the types of rabbet joints you could cut and how to make them. Therefore, we are positive that you will be able to make any rabbet joint having read this article. For decades, NCCuttingtools has built the skill and expertise to provide diverse cutting tools and other customized services. If you have any concerns or problems, please contact us for proper consultation and guidance. 

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