Miter Joint with No Visible End Grain?

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There are all sorts of joints for boxes (dovetails, finger joints, and lock miters, just to name a few). Some of these joints are easier to make than others, and many of them result in a box with visible end grain somewhere on the outside faces; while that might be acceptable for some projects, it’s definitely not for others. So what do you do when you want an easy-to-make joint with no visible end grain? Utilize the “rabbeting miter,” which is just what it sounds like: a miter joint with a rabbet!

You can make this joint on the table saw, but it’s a lot easier and more accurate with our Rabbeting Miter Joint Router Bit Set. With two router bits, you can make tight-fitting joints that are perfect for boxes, columns, and casework.

*Tip: This joint is ideal for MDF and plywood because, unlike a lock miter, it doesn’t produce any small and fragile surfaces that can break during routing or assembly (picture the little fingers on a lock miter joint). It’s also good for edge-to-edge joints in solid wood, like the ones in the small column you’ll see below.


Making a Rabbet Miter Joint

(This instructional works for ¾” stock; for any other thickness, please refer to this PDF.)

First, install the smaller diameter bit in your router table. Place a piece of the stock you plan to rout on the table with another piece of flat material on top, allowing some overhang. Raise the bit until it contacts the top piece of material and lock it in place.

miter joint set first bit height

Then set the fence depth so that about ¼” of the bit sticks out.

fence depth first rabbet bit

Rout a test piece and move the fence back if you don’t end up with a sharp point at the top of the beveled portion of the joint. Once you have the fence properly set, route both long edges on two pieces of stock. You’re finished with the first bit, so remove it and install the larger bit.

Now set the height for the larger diameter bit with the same method you used for the first bit. The top of the bit should be above the tabletop by the thickness of your stock.

set larget rabbet bit height

Adjust the fence so that about ¼” of the bit is exposed, and rout a test piece. Move the fence back until you end up with a sharp point on the beveled portion of the joint.

large rabbet bit fence set

*Tip: Alternatively, you can place two pieces of stock edge down on the infeed and outfeed sides of the fence.

Then put another piece of material face down on the table and butt it against the stock. Move the fence until the bit just contacts the third piece of material. Rout a test piece and adjust the fence accordingly. When you have the fence set for the second bit, route the edges in two more pieces of stock. Now you’re ready to assemble the column.

Apply a thin, even layer of glue to all surfaces of the joint and clamp the column together.

lap rabbet miter joint in clamps

After a little sanding, you should have a sturdy column with surfaces that are square and true!


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Also check out this project’s video demonstration here!

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