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Lap joint

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Title: Lap joint  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Woodworking, Splice joint, Bush carpentry, Wood, Lap (disambiguation)
Collection: Joinery
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lap joint

Lap joints can be used in wood, plastic, or metal. A half lap joint or a halving joint is a technique of joining two pieces of material together by overlapping them. A lap may be a full lap or half lap. In a full lap, no material is removed from either of the members to be joined, resulting in a joint which is the combined thickness of the two members. In a half lap joint, material is removed from each of the members so that the resulting joint is the thickness of the thickest member. Most commonly in half lap joints, the members are of the same thickness and half the thickness of each is removed.


  • Halving laps 1
    • Applications 1.1
    • End lap 1.2
    • Cross lap 1.3
    • Dovetail lap 1.4
    • Mitred half lap 1.5
  • See also 2
  • External links 3

Halving laps

Left to right: Half lap, mitred half lap, cross lap and dovetail lap

Halving lap joints are used extensively in traditional timber framing, construction and cabinetry for framing. They are quick and easy to make and provide reasonable strength through good long grain to long grain gluing surface. The shoulders provide some resistance to racking (diagonal distortion). They may be reinforced with dowels or mechanical fasteners to resist twisting.


  • Frame assembly in cabinet making
  • Temporary framing
  • Some applications in timber frame construction


End lap

Also known simply as a 'pull lap', it is the basic form of the lap joint and is used when joining members end to end either parallel or at right angles. When the joint forms a corner, as in a rectangular frame, the joint is often called a corner lap. This is the most common form of end lap and is used most in framing.

For a half lap in which the members are parallel, the joint may be known as a half lap splice. This is a splice joint and is an alternative to scarfing when joining shorter members end to end.

Both members in an end lap have one shoulder and one cheek each.

Use for:

  • Internal cabinet frames
  • Visible frames when the frame members are to be shaped.

Cross lap

The main difference between this and the basic half lap is that the joint occurs in the middle of one or both members, rather than at the end. The two members are at right angles to each other and one member may terminate at the joint, or it may carry on beyond it. When one of the members terminates at the shin , it is often referred to as a Tee lap or middle lap. In a cross lap where both members continue beyond the joint, each member has two shoulders and one cheek.

Use for:

  • Internal cabinet frames
  • Simple framing and bracing

Dovetail lap

This is a lap in which the housing has been cut at an angle which resists withdrawal of the stem from the cross-piece.

Use for:

  • Framing applications where tension forces could pull the joint apart

Mitred half lap

This is a variation of the end lap which shows a mitre on the face of the finished work.

The mitred half lap is the weakest version of the joint because of the reduced gluing surface.

Use for:

  • Visible framing applications where a mitred corner is desired

See also

External links

  •'s Timber Joints Wiki (dead link) - Heaps of practical information on various types of timber joints.
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