What is Miter Joint?

Miter joint at 45-degree angles

Miter joints are ubiquitous sights in galleries and photo studios. You might wonder which part of these places you can see miter joints. A frame over a picture or painting comprises wooden pieces to join their ends. These wood joints connect two pieces of wood cut at the corner at an angle. 

They form a corner of the painting’s frame or glass mirror, usually at 45-degrees angle. It is easy to spot a miter joint than other types of wood joinery, and you happen to come across them many times in your life!

When to Use a Miter Joint?

A miter joint is one of the less complex techniques in wood joinery to create than butt joints. Both joineries have similar construction, but it is more appealing and robust than butt joints. Butt joints reveal the board’s end grain in half. The miter cut offers a broader surface for gluing by exposing the board’s long grain. 

Woodworkers cut the workpieces at a forty-five-degree angle to form a sizeable gluing surface for reinforcement. They have a clean end grain, which makes them attractive. If you want a neat and concealed joint, use a miter joint to make framings for pictures, paintings, wall decors, and mirrors. 

Miter joints are ideal joinery for items that do not require extra holding strength. Wood paneling looks excellent if you want to cover their edges with miter joints. A drop saw will help you achieve neat and straight edges instead of hand saws. However, I always like to add an additional simple joinery technique on top of the miter joint make it stronger to

Different Types of Miter Joints

1) Mason’s Miter

These miter joints produce a neat appearance, making them a favorite joinery for woodworking, stonework, and masonry. The joints are well secure and minimize waste materials compared to a standard miter joint. 

A miter joint comprises intersecting and recipient constituents. The constituents represent the receiver (female) and the intersecting unit (male). This miter joinery works well when building laminate kitchen countertops, corporate tables, cabinetry, and furniture involving lamination.  

Cutting & Reinforcing a Mason’s Miter

To begin cutting this miter joint, a worktop router jig with a width of 700 to 900mm will help you achieve a perfect joint. Cutting involves two elements that meet in the same direction, like in a butt joint. 

What makes them different is that a mason’s cut results in cutting out a workpiece from a socket to meet the end of the small segment. You carry out the task by creating a small miter on the inside edges of the small portion (socket) and the outer end of the male fragment.  

2) Hidden Spline Miter 

A hidden spline miter is a method of reinforcing a miter joint. These are splines concealed inside the joint to add extra strength to your workpiece.  

Cutting & Reinforcing Spline Miter

Trim off a thick piece of wood’s slices from the end to create the splines. Start cutting the ends of the workpieces with a gauge as your guide. Prepare your blade by setting it at a forty-five-degree angle. Get a painter’s tape, and place it on the joint to make the layout marks after putting together the joints. 

Use a table saw to create a slash right through the surface slop of the miter to insert the splines into the joint. The combination square should be half of your board’s thickness, and place it against the joint to create the layout mark. 

Change the setting to 45 degrees angle, scribble a line across, and then tilt the blade to 45 degrees using a miter gauge, lowering the edge to avoid cutting through the workpiece. Push the pieces of wood through the blade to cut out the slashes (notches) on the board’s ends. Stick the splines into the incision to adhere.

3) Locked Miter Rabbet 

Locked miter rabbets are strong versions of miters, especially if you glue and place them well. The miter is on the outside, and the wood sections look like a jigsaw puzzle. 

Cutting & Reinforcing a Locked Rabbet Miter

Prepare the workpieces, mill and mark them and start cutting using a ripping blade set on the table saw. The ripping blade should have the same height as your board’s thickness. If you have no ripping blade, use a locked rabbet miter router instead. 

Clamp a piece of plywood to the guide fence, ensuring the workpieces stay in place. Cut a groove at the center of the workpieces and cut the tip of the workpieces. The workpieces should be at a ninety degrees angle.  

4) Rabbeted Miter Joint 

Rabbeted miter joints work similarly to locked rabbet miter joints. They differ because the rabbeted version does not have interconnecting pieces or grooves. It means that rabbeted miter joints are simple to make than locked rabbet miters. 

Cutting & Reinforcing a Rabbeted Miter

Prepare the workpieces and scribble layout marks 1 and 2 at the end of each board. Attach the ripping blade to your table saw at the same height as your board’s thickness. Start cutting the joints, ensuring they do not have the same lengths. Tilt the ripping blade at a forty-five-degree angle, working on the edges, and cut the miter after creating the rabbets. 

5) Miter with Dowels

This miter joint requires you to embed several dowels in the slope ends of the miters. 

Cutting & Reinforcing a Miter with Dowels

Calculate how many dowels your project needs. Use a dowel maker to create the dowels, carving out the circular grooves using a wood drill bit. Set your dowels to create a strong joint. It is simple to develop compared to other miter joineries. 

6) Three-Way Miters

Three-way miters consist of one post and two parallel top workpieces with three frames. The leg comprises two mortises and one sub-tenon for the recipient floating tenons. 

Cutting & reinforcing a 3-way Miters

Three-way miters require the correct miter gauge and saw setups to get a clean cut. Set up a miter gauge extension, about four inches taller than the workpiece, setting it at forty-five degrees angle. It is a simple miter joinery, but you must align the miter slot on the table saw parallel to the rip blade, ensuring that the blade is at ninety degrees angle to the table.  

Clamp the wood pieces tightly against the gauge extension. Cut a forty-five-degree miter on the board’s part, and turn the edge of the mitered piece up. Align the tip of the miter with a zero-clearance kerf. 

Cut the next miter, ensuring that both cuts match perfectly with a sharp tip at the end. Continue the steps to make the remaining miter pairs at the end of each section. The next step is to glue the mortises. 

Assemble the top pieces after placing the frames in place. Glue the top pieces to the base. Clamp the workpieces and glue up the floating tenons in the post.

7) Compound Miter

A compound miter helps create crown molding. It consists of inside and outside corners. 

Cutting & Reinforcing Compound Miters

Install the molding piece on the table saw, with the bottom edge facing upward, to make it easy to hold the bottom edge against your miter saw fence. When cutting both pieces (right hand or left hand), always keep an eye on them. 

Cut the left-hand piece by swinging the miter arm to the forty-five degrees right. Put the workpieces on the saw blade’s right side to get the exact number of angles. 

Follow the opposite step in making the right-hand piece, which means swinging the miter handle to forty-five degrees left. 

Tip: Measure all corners separately and correctly before cutting them to get an exact ninety-degree angle.

Pros & Cons of Miter Joints 

Like some wood joineries, they have advantages and disadvantages. Miter joints conceal an unpleasant end grain in the timber. They can create different wood items, such as picture frames and furniture. 


  • Easy: These wood joints require a simple hand or miter saw. You can cut several workpieces at their desired angle (45 degrees or 90 degrees) and connect them to bond. Apply glue on the surface to reinforce the joints. 
  • Clean Cut: Since miter joints hide the unpleasant end grain of your workpieces, your woodworking project is attractive to onlookers. It is popular in making frames for paintings, wall decorations, boxes, and molding. 
  • Resilient: Miter joints are one of the strongest wood joineries as the two pieces connect after cutting them. This technique creates a formidable bond between the wood pieces. 
  • Simple: The simplicity of miter joints makes them easy to create. It does not require additional carpentry skills. Use a drill and saw to create them as quickly as you can.  


  • Not So Strong: The strength of miter joints is not as muscular as a primary butt joint. The board cannot withstand extreme weather or heavy loads, making them unsuitable for heavy and oversized furniture. 
  • Limited Support: Miters offer weak support for heirlooms and large furniture pieces, such as dressers and bookcases. Moving the furniture pieces with this kind of joinery will break their structure, as miters have a single contact point for each piece of wood.  


Miter joints’ salient feature is their ability to conceal ugly end grains of workpieces. They are easy to cut, but they also have imperfections. Their strength relies on forty-five end grain-to-end grain glue joints that make them weak, unlike some wood joineries that offer side grain-to-side grain glue points. It does not provide accurate alignment, so it pays to measure the workpieces before setting the tools on the table. But these issues do not make miter joints less desirable to use. They create artwork, and decorative pieces look fantastic!

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