A Woodworker’s Notebook
Jeff Gorman
Secret Lap Joint

This is not as tricky to make as the secret mitre dovetail. Instead of working the moulding, the end of the top can be finished flush with the side if a plain and simple joint is required.

  • Accurately plane all ends. For the time being, assume that the end of the tail bearer will finish flush with the outer face of its mate.
  • Mark the socket depths.
  • Form the rebate at the end of the tail bearer. Use a shoulder plane.
  • Cut the pins. Saw as far as you can at an angle to the face.
  • Complete the tail sockets with a bevelled-edge chisel. Skew-ended bevelled edge chisels are useful.
  • Since end-grain adhesion is almost non-existent, you can undercut, but don't overdo it.
  • Use the end of a combination square to test both vertical faces and the floors of the sockets.
  • Scribe, saw and pare the pin sockets.
  • Trim the end of the tail bearer to form the listel.
  • Work the moulding.
  • Dry assemble to test the fit. If the joint is too tight, plane a few shavings from the inside face of the pin bearer. If too slack, start again!
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