Posted in Joinery Techniques

Lock rebate joint

Here is a a simple yet effective way to create a clean looking ‘lock rebate’ joint, especially useful in making drawers. The picture below shows an example of the finished joint.

Lock rebate joint
Lock rebate joint

The thicker piece of wood in this picture is the drawer front while the thinner piece is the drawer side. The advantage of this type of joint in this particular application, i.e. drawer joinery is that is relatively easy (using a router table or table saw) and provide a aesthetically pleasing joint that is also as strong as a half-blind dovetail joint.

I recently tried to create this joint using a router table and a 1/4inch straight router bit. Below I describe how this joint can be made step-by-step to get a perfect fit every time.

Before we start cutting joints some basic rules of the game. Firstly these instructions only work with drawer fronts that are 3/4 inch thick and drawer sides that are 1/2 inch thick. Secondly the first time I made my test cuts to set up the router table fence I made a very simple fence setting jig to make setting up the router table fence a breeze. Photos of this fence setting jig are shown below. It basically allows for accurate setup of the router fence so that the router bit is exactly 1/4 inch from the fence. Once you have tried the steps below you will have a good idea of how to change the setup to accommodate material of various thickness or thinness!

Router table fence setting jig
Fence setting jig in place on the router table













Remember we are using a ¼ inch straight router bit

  1. Set the router table fence such that the 1/4 inch router bit is exactly 1/4 inch from the fence. Make some test cuts to ensure that the fence is in the desired position. Once this has been done the simple fence jig (shown above) can be made up to speed up this process in the future.
  2. Set the router bit height to ¼ inch and rout the drawer fronts held in an upright position against the fence.
  3. Now rout the drawer sides placed flat on the table using a mitre gauge. Even though a mitre gauge is being used, keep the drawer side flush to the fence
  4. Increase the router bit height to ½ inch and rout the drawer sides as was done in step 2 above. This ensures that the groove in the drawer fronts is now 1/2 inch deep.
  5. On the table saw set the blade height to ¼ inch. Using a mitre gauge crosscut the drawer fronts making sure that only ¼ inch of material (as measured from the end of the drawer fronts) is cut away from the inside of the drawer fronts. Your drawer sides should now fit snugly into the drawer front.
  6. Glue up the joints.

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