What’s a bridle joint?

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The “bridle joint” is a woodworking joint where a mortise is cut into one piece of wood and a tenon is cut into the other. There are three variations, and it can be made with basic tools or power tools. It adds strength and durability to woodworking projects and is commonly used in furniture and home construction. Lap joints are similar but lack the strength of bridle joints.

The term “joint joint” is a woodworking term used to describe a joint in which a mortise is cut into one piece of wood and a tenon is cut into the other piece. The cut of both the mortise and tenon extends the full width of the piece being used as a tenon. The mortise is a slot cut into a piece of lumber and the tenon is a tongue of wood at the end of another piece of lumber. If cut correctly, the tenon will be received by the mortise and will fit snugly without much movement.

There are three variations of this joint: the basic bridle, the angle bridle, and the T-bridle. All variations of this joint can be crafted with a handsaw and chisel using the basic crafting skills of the workbench. This has made the joint a popular choice with woodworking enthusiasts and carpenters. With the introduction of power tools – such as the circular saw, dado sets and power routers – it became much easier for woodworkers to create uniform joints, and this joint and its variations have seen even greater use.

The basic bridle joint is used to joint two planks, one mortise cut and the other tenon cut. The corner bridle uses a tenon-cut board and two mortises that are half the depth of the tenon, joining the three pieces of wood together with a mortise on either side of the tenon to form a set of angles in the shape of the letter T. a T uses a mortise cut in the center area of ​​the piece rather than at the end.

The use of nails or other hardware that could rust and leave stains in the wood is not required in a bridle joint. Using friction alone, this type of joint is extremely durable when the component parts are cut correctly. For added durability, however, many woodworkers will also incorporate wood glue into the assembly process, gluing the three sides of the tenon together before inserting it into the mortise.

The bridle joint and its variations are used in many applications. The joint adds extra strength and durability to woodworking projects because it locks the lumber together, similar to the way pieces in a jigsaw puzzle are connected. Some of the most common places you can find this type of woodworking joint are railing posts, picture frames, home construction, and furniture.

Lap joints are similar in design to bridle joints, so the two types are sometimes confused. The main difference between them is easy to see on closer visual inspection. The lap joint doesn’t have a true mortise, but is actually made of two tenons cut half the thickness of the wood. While this joint can be used effectively in many circumstances, the lap joint lacks the strength of the bridle joint. As a rule of thumb, the saddle joint can be used in place of a lap joint to provide additional strength to a design, but a lap joint should not be used in place of a saddle joint.

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