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Basic Furniture Joints and How to Make Them



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 Basic Furniture Joints and How to Make Them

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Chances are, if you are looking for cheap furniture with reasonable quality, you stopped going to furniture stores a long time ago.  By the same token, you have more than likely noticed that ready to assemble furniture has also risen in price.  If you are anything like me, there is also a good chance that available furnitures never quite fit in the space allotted, nor do they have the right sized drawers, shelves, and other parts.  


Over the years, I have resorted more and more to visiting the lumber yard, buying the wood, and building furniture for myself.  As a prepper, you may also be interested in making furniture for your own use, and also use furniture making as a skill to hone for the sake of barter during times of need.  Before you start making furniture, however, it is very important to know how to join pieces of wood together in order to make furniture that will look good, be sturdy enough for the application in question, and last as long as possible.  The following are common furniture joints that you should practice making so that you can always replicate them when needed.

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Butt Joint


This joint takes two pieces of wood and connects them at corners, or one edge to another.  It is not well suited for two thin pieces of wood, and can be very unstable even if you are using 1” x 2” posts or beams.  Usually, you have to brace this joint with wedges, screws, or braces further along the length of the parts.  I have also found this joint can be very prone to splitting, especially when nailing the pieces together.  It is better to drill pilot holes in each piece of wood, and then use screws.  


Dado Joint

The dado joint is suitable for plywood or other relatively thin sheets of wood.  To make this  joint, you will need to cut a groove into one piece of wood that will be wide enough to fit the edge of another piece of wood into.  This type of joint is usually used to join shelves to the sides and back of the unit.  This joint works well as long as the shelf is not too long and there is no too much weight on it.  You may still have to add wood blocks on each end, as well as braces in the middle sections in order to reduce the risk of the shelf collapsing.

Dowel Joint

Dowel joints are probably some of the most fascinating I have ever come across because they have been used for centuries in Asia and other countries with little mishap. As fragile as the dowels may seem, these joints are stable and stronger than you would expect.  To make a dowel joint, you need  to start off by drilling holes in each piece of wood that will be joined together.  The holes must align perfectly so that the dowel can be inserted into the hole in one piece of wood and fit into the appropriate hole in the other piece of wood.  You can also glue the dowels in for added strength.

Lap Joint

In order to make this joint, you need to cut each end to be joined in half.  Next, you simply fit the cut pieces together to complete the joint. Unlike many other joints, the lap joint can be made at just about any angle, and also join pieces of material at central locations. It is ideal for making 45  degree joints (such as you would find in a photo frame), cross shapes, and others that might be needed for more complicated furnishings.  

This is also one of the fancier type of joints in the sense that you can join together curves, odd angles, and many other designs.  As long as the wood matches up on both sides and fits together correctly, just about anything is possible.  To make the joints stable and strong, you can use glue, nails, or staples. If the wood is thick enough, you may also want to consider using dowels.

This joint also lends itself well to tongue and grove stabilizers.  All you need to do is make the grooves and tongues match up.  Before you try this, it is best to practice with other joint types, as this one can truly be one of the most challenging.  

Insofar as the thickness of the wood, you can use the lap joint for plywood as long as it is at least ½ inch thick. If you try to use this joint on wood that is not as thick, it should not support any weight.  Remember, just because you can actually make the grooves or cut the wood in half, that doesn’t mean the resulting wood will actually be strong enough.  That being said, if you use different materials such as plastic or metal, you may be able to get away with using thinner pieces.  

Miter Joint

Unlike the lap joint, the miter joint is used exclusively for making 45 degree angles.  To make this joint, you also do not have to cut the ends to be joined in half.  Usually, you will need to pre-drill holes  for fitting dowels, use staples, or try to glue the angled pieces together.  This joint is not as stable as some others, however it is still very important for areas that show or ones where you want a little bit of design to the joint.  The miter joint is also considered a bit more complicated than other joints because each piece of wood must be cut to the correct angle so that the resulting joint is 90 degrees.

Mortise and  Tenon Joint

In order to make this joint, you need to start off by cutting a hole, or “mortise”, in the end of one piece of wood that will be used in the joint.  Next, take the other piece of wood and cut down the end to be joined until it forms a tongue, or Tenon that will fit comfortably into the mortise.  Historically speaking, this is one of the oldest methods used for joining pieces of wood together. It forms a very stable joint, and can also be made in may variations to suit different needs.  

Surprisingly enough, the mortise and tenon joint can also be used to make some very fancy, and useful  pieces. For example, you can use it to join spokes to an outer band to form everything from wagon wheels to curved surfaces.  If you do not run the tenon all the way through the wood, you can make ladder back chairs as well as other forms.  

While the mortar and tenon joint is very versatile, it will take some practice to center the holes correctly, and also hew down the tenon so that the rest of the material is balanced correctly.  You will also find that joints may be more stable if you use glue, or drill holes so that you can put a screw through the entire structure.

Through Dovetail Joint

If you look at the joints for a wooden drawer, you will probably find a dovetail joint. Basically, you have to cut into each end of the wood to form a series of grooves and tongues.  Next, you would cut a corresponding tongue for each groove on the first piece of wood, and a groove for each tongue. When you joint the pieces together, they will be aligned to form a 90 degree angle.  This joint is one of the most stable, and also the most difficult.  

To make it stronger you may need to use glue to hold the pieces together.  There are three common problems you may encounter when making this joint:

  • first, you may wind up making the tongues too small in relation to the groove. Even though they may be aligned perfectly, they will simply fall apart. To make a proper fitting dovetail joint, I found it best to make the tongues thick enough so that I have to hammer them a bit to get them into place.
  • Second – when you are using thinner pieces of wood, the tongues can be more fragile than expected.  The can easily split if you hammer too much or put excessive pressure on them.  Depending on the wood type and quality, you may also wind up splitting the entire piece if the tongue is too big and winds up acting like a wedge.
  • Third – it is all too easy to make the tongues too thick.  While this problem can be managed easily enough by sanding the tongues down, great care must be taken not to sand too much.   

Tongue and  Groove Joint

To make this joint, simply cut a groove in one edge, and a corresponding tongue in the other end. This joint is commonly used for floor boards as well as other surfaces where you must join pieces of wood together in a parallel fashion instead of perpendicular.

As you can see, there are many ways to make and use furniture joints. With time and practice you should be able to make them all and use them as needed.  No matter whether you build custom furniture for yourself or others, this is a vital skill that every prepper should learn.


* A Scott Hughes Original for FP!

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Writes​​ ​​about​​ ​​freedom ​​and​​ ​​more​​ ​​​​at​​​​.​​ ​​His weekly National Affairs Column - never a dull read - appears at The Piedmont Chronicles​​​​. THE SUBSTITUTE​​ is his first Novel. He​​ ​​is​​ ​​still none​​ ​​too​​ ​​fond​​ ​​of​​ ​​government​​ ​​meddling.

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Excellent Ideas from an Experienced Survivalist to Homestead in an Apartment



After watching the 1999 romantic comedy, ‘Blast from the Past,’ I had always wondered about the genius of Dr. Calvin Webber who managed 35 years in an underground shelter. His wife gave birth to an only child Adam, who ventured out into the outside world for the first time in his 35th year. The point is the film convinced its viewers very realistically that it is possible to live isolated for at least 35 years if we make meticulous plans. 

History is overloaded with numerous examples of self-sufficient lifestyles. Many communes had developed their norms to survive and maintain law and order within their secluded lands. There are many anecdotes about people living their lives without interacting with the external world. The “Lena and Ole” compilations are based on Norwegians who chose the upper lands of the Midwest as their foster homes. Here is a one-liner, 

“Ole painted the barn in July and had put on two jackets because the user manual of the paint said- Put on two coats!”

This is an inadvertent simple joke that has no ill intentions. Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny as long as it’s happening to someone else.” Homesteading is no easy task. At the same time, it is a style that has no substitute once you get used to it. 

The Age of Information

Our generation is blessed with information at our fingertips, I mean, literally. Today a shepherd boy living in a remote African village has more information on his smartphone than was available only to the President of the United States at a certain age. My point is that the film ‘Blast from the past’ could not be conceived today nor would Ole put on two jackets to paint the barn. Homesteading is fine for people who live on “land,” but what about the inhabitants of apartments? 

The Homesteading Lifestyle

What happens in a homestead that is independent of the outside society? The inhabitants have the necessities within the confines of their boundaries for a decent existence. Let us have a look at the methods used by homesteaders to live. First we need to define the term in simple language.

An individual, a family, or a whole society can live within the set geographical limits of a designated area. We are talking about homesteading in an apartment, so let us focus on an individual or a small family. 

Definition of Homesteading in an Apartment

A single-family existing within the household compound of an apartment building to live, work, and earn can be defined as homesteading. 

This layman’s definition will give rise to a lot of questions which we shall be attempting in the content that follows. 

OK, let us now get on with living our dream life homesteading in our apartments.

A Farm Inside the Apartment

I will begin by growing my food and advance on to sophisticated produce along the way. Start small by growing your salad bowl.

i. Get hold of enough grow bags or containers. Search the net for required sizes and DIY ideas.

ii. Prepare the soil by using proper potting mix.

iii. Tomato is a good option- cherry tomato would be my suggestion. 

iv. Other plants for our salad bowl should be lettuce and basil plants. 

v. Take care of the plants with good nursing practices. Place them on the balcony where there is enough sun.

vi. Carrots can be grown inside car battery covers in the interior of the apartment.

vii. You can make organic fertilizer at home. 

You are now the proud owner of an organic farm. 

Tip: Grow lights can substitute for the sun.

Other Items I Can Grow

Once you get the hang of interior farming, we can move on to other crops. 

Strawberries: They can be grown in containers or grow bags, but need a hydroponic watering system. We will discuss that later. 

Herbs: Mints, lavender, and rosemary are good choices. They will come in handy to prepare a good cup of hot tea. They can also be used to make soaps and oils. Herbs will add flavor to many dishes. 

Micro Greens: With some quality seeds you can begin. The first harvest will provide seeds for the next. 

Sprouts: With a jar and some cheesecloth or mess top we can grow our sprouts for a stir fry or sandwich. 

A Hydroponic System

Even if you are growing food using containers and potting soil, a hydroponic system will let you increase the quantity. It avoids a lot of mess as it advocates a system of soilless farming. They come in compact designs or vertical configurations. 

They can be bought or constructed by learning the numerous DIY strategies available online. 

Manufacture Manure at Home

Organic fertilizer can be made at home by the clever utilization of food waste. Get a container with a good lid. Put some gravel and soil at the bottom. Introduce worms for worm composting. Empty all bio-degradable garbage into the container. You will get enough environment-friendly fertilizer for the farm. This method frees you from the chore of taking out the garbage. 

Tip: Do not expose the manure cans to sunlight. It can cook worms. 

Grow Mushrooms

Did you know mushrooms are grown only indoors for industrial farming? Get an edible mushroom kit to begin your first batch in a dark corner of your apartment. 

Meat On The Table

Did you wonder for a moment what crazy idea I was going to put forth? Quails!

They are very silent birds that need only very little space. They give a lot of eggs and quail meat is way above chicken, beef, and pork in its health advantages. Quails being small birds, need only a little feed, and kitchen scraps go well with them. 

Mini Solar Power House

Did you know solar panels don’t require direct sunlight? They need good lighting and it is advised to install the panels at a good spot on the patio or balcony. 

Depending upon the capacity of the panels, you can increase the number of appliances that run on solar power. They can be used for grow lights and also for pumps used in the hydroponic system. 

A Self-Reliant Life

Once we have become self-sufficient in food matters, we can think about cutting out other purchases. This will also involve income creation. Do your homework to get as many DIY ideas as possible. We can begin the process by gaining ideas by:

i. Visiting other homesteaders or communes.

ii. Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture.

iii. Visiting farmer’s markets.

We can enrich our homesteading experience within the confines of an apartment by progressing on to a more autonomous lifestyle by integrating the following activities:

i. Do own baking for bread and other items.

ii. Learn and engage in carpentry.

iii. Do your own electric and plumbing jobs.

iv. Learn to stitch to make your garments (trust me, it is far easier than you believed.)

Before Going Shopping

Whenever the need to buy something comes up, take a few moments to ponder whether it is something you can create using your potential. Not only will you be learning a new skill, but also it may help you earn. Remember, the Wright brothers had never flown an airplane till they became the first humans to become airborne on a machine. 

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Why Does the Black Plague Keep Coming Back?



Black Plague
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Prepper News Weekly, Friday, April 6, 2018



Prepper News Weekly, Friday, April 6, 2018


A big, busy, crazy week in prepper land! Spring has sprung and it has sprung forth all manner of issues to keep us on our toes. Here’s a review of the bigger stories bearing down on preppers and freedom lovers. Please enjoy (and subscribe!):


Video by Perrin Lovett/FPTV/YouTube.


Perrin recently learned that something called “airplane mode” stops incoming debt collection calls and hate texts from interrupting our recordings! Will wonders never cease?



Quality will improve immediately…


In the news:


The Caravan


Mass migration


Troops out of Syria, to Rio Grande?


More Snow?!


YouTube shooting


China and tariffs







And, we’re in full swing at The Masters!


Thank you, as always. Don’t forget to check every day for all the stories that affect preppers, survivalists, and the rest of the sanity crowd. Well, check it now – rumor has it the news will soon be incorporated into the new, new revised and improved Stay tuned.


Have a great weekend!


Perrin​​ ​​Lovett​​​ ​​​writes​​ ​​about​​ ​​freedom,​​ ​​firearms,​​ ​​and​​ ​​cigars​​ ​​(and​​ ​​everything​​ ​​else)​​ ​​at​​.​​ ​​He​​ ​​is​​ ​​none​​ ​​too​​ ​​fond​​ ​​of​​ ​​government​​ ​​meddling.

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