Your first encounter with interlocking pieces of wood may have been when you’ve observed how furniture fits together. Perhaps you may have pulled out a dresser drawer frantically looking for something, and upon finding what you were looking for, you noticed a peculiar pattern on a corner of your drawer. This pattern that you saw was most likely box joint pine commonly confused with finger jointed pine. So, what is finger jointed pine?
Finger jointed pine is also made up of interlocking pieces of wood. It is very similar to box joints, but they tend to fit together parallel to other cuts of pine wood. In contrast, box joints fit together at a 90-degree angle. When the finger joint point is interlocked, it resembles fingers clasped together. Hence the name finger jointed.
While box joints are typically used for making furniture, particularly shelves and drawers, finger joints are usually used for trim and baseboards. It is relatively cheap, and it is easy to work with because it is made of pine.
Brief History of Lumber
Wood is a critical building material, but to shape it into useful lumber is very difficult, making most types of wood costly. Pine, a plentiful wood throughout the United States, is a more cost-effective type of lumber. In addition, if you purchase pine that is rough cut, this may decrease its cost even more.
The use of wood in building goes back into antiquity. However, the plentiful types of wood discovered in North American colonies spurred the use of wood as a principal building material. In addition, the popularity of the circular saw in the 1800s increased reliance on wood because it makes it quicker and easier to cut the wood into lumber.
Longer pieces of lumber are subject to defects which may render higher quality grades of wood lower. This quality reduction reduces how much a piece of wood can fetch at the market. Longer wood is also subject to other issues such as breaking, splitting, cracking, cupping, and other issues.
Why Finger Jointed Pine Was Invented
Finger jointed pine was a solution for selling wood that had issues. The bad parts of the wood could be removed and interlocked with other good wood parts. Finger jointed pine was invented to sell longer pieces of wood that fit together perfectly at a lower cost. The comb-like construction allows pieces of wood to be put together to form a longer piece of wood. However, interlocking pieces of wood are complicated and time-consuming to create. Therefore, this type of wood is limited to specific purposes such as crafts, baseboards, and casings.
How is Finger Jointed Pine Created
You can purchase finger jointed pine from the store, buy it from a lumber supplier, or create it in your woodworking shop. Whatever way that you acquire it, the formation of it is the same.
Factory-created Finger Jointed Pine
At a factory, varying pieces of wood are sent through big wood machines and lined up accordingly. The pieces travel through the machine on an assembly line process, starting with people who sort the pieces and place them on the machine. The device will then cuts the wood on one or both sides into the finger shapes.
Pieces are then fitted together until one large wood plank is formed. Each of the individual planks are glued together to secure them. Excess glue is removed, and the wood is shaped into whatever it is destined to be or left rough cut to sell to woodworkers. After several wood planks are created, they are stacked together with other wood planks.
Some of these blocks that are shaped may be very thick. These thick finger-jointed blocks may be suitable for butcher blocks or wood benches. However, some finger-jointed wood may be very thin. Thinner pieces are used for various types of molding. How the wood is cut and shaped depends on the kind of factory that the wood is made at and what the finger pined wood is being created for.
Woodshop Created Finger Jointed Pine
If you want to create finger jointed pine for your projects, it won’t be as involved as it is at a factory. Nor will you need as much wood. One of the reasons you may want to create finger jointed pine is that you want to make the lumber you have longer than it is. Perhaps you bought pieces as long as you could for your budget, but you need longer ones. Maybe you could have purchased the longer ones but transporting such boards would have presented problems. So, you opted to put your woodworking skills to work to extend the pieces of wood.
Another reason you may need to create finger jointed pine could be because you made an error in cutting your wood. Since you don’t want to waste the wood blocks you have, a quick and easy fix is creating a finger joint cut on the wood. Then, you can put the damaged pieces together to use for the project you were working on instead of tossing the wood.
Still, another reason why you may want to make a finger joint cut on your wood is that you may be installing trim throughout a long hallway or a long portion of a room and need to join boards. The most common cut that most people use on trim is a scarf cut. However, you may not be as fond of scarf cuts as most people. Or perhaps you want to add some pizazz where the two boards meet for decorative purposes, especially if you plan to stain the wood instead of paint it.
No matter what reason you decide you want to put a finger joint cut in your pine wood, you will need a finger joint router bit to achieve this cut. This piece is something that you add to your wood router, and it comes as a fixed finger joint or an adjustable one. You can take some wood blocks that you have cut and run them through the router machine to create your finger joints. If you are using blocks that need to be fitted together, once you make the cuts, you can fit the pieces together accordingly. They should fit together perfectly.
After testing them to ensure that they fit correctly, you can remove the pieces and place a wood adhesive on the fingers to ensure that they stay together. To ensure that the pieces don’t move during the drying process, you can use a wood press to hold the blocks tightly together.
How Finger Jointed Pine is Used
Finger jointed pine is very useful. Some furniture and woodworking are pieced together, and you may not even be aware that the finger jointed technique was used. This is because many projects use this method, but the finger-like shape is not exposed. Therefore, it looks like various pieces of wood joined together, as is the case with a butcher’s block.
Sometimes the V-shaped design is exposed, and it is done intentionally to show the detail of the cut. This is mainly seen with woodworking projects or with trim. Sometimes a carpenter may choose a darker wood and a lighter wood to put together using the finger joint method to show the contrast and enhance the décor for door trim. Here are some other ways that finger jointed pine may be used.
Furniture or Other Wood Projects
One of the most common ways to use finger jointed pine is in wood projects or furniture. You may not have realized it, but picnic benches, butcher blocks, tables, and various other furniture and wood projects may have been assembled using this technique. The fingers may not show in many of these pieces, but they have been affixed and glued together using this technique.
Finger jointed pine may also be used for window trim. Sometimes the trim may come already cut, and you just need to glue it together for your trim project. Or you can buy the trim and make the cuts using a finger joint bit and a router. Using such a cut on window trim can make the trim more durable and can be a much more economical choice than using higher grades of pine wood.
Moldings and Baseboards
Some crown molding and baseboards for your home may be affixed using finger jointed pine. However, if the piece has been treated with white primer, it won’t be easy to see the intricate details of the finger joint design.
Finger Jointed Pine v. MDF
Since finger jointed pine is used for trim, it is often compared to medium density fiberboard (MDF), which is also used for trim. Both are byproducts of leftover wood, but finger jointed pine is natural wood, whereas MDF consists of sawdust and wood shavings. MDF is an easy, ready-to-use product for baseboards. It looks fantastic once it is sanded and painted, and it is far cheaper than finger jointed pine. However, if you are trying to decide which one to use for your home trim project, it may be a good idea to choose finger jointed pine.
One of the best reasons to choose finger jointed pine over MDF is that it is real wood. Another reason is that it is much more durable. Also, if you must cut either of the two, finger jointed pine will cut like natural wood. Since it is made of sawdust, MDF creates lots of dust particles in the air, which can be hazardous to breathe. Although pine is not very moisture-resistant, it is a far better choice than MDF which can warp and bubble in moisture-rich areas of the home.