Strong Joints for Mitered Doors

Cabinetmakers discuss corrugated miter fasteners, through splines, pocket screws, dovetail bowties, and other ways to strengthen miter joints. November 20, 2005

We are doing our first set of mitred doors. I have seen them with what looks like a steel spline driven into the joint from the inside of the mitre on the backside of the panel. What kind of machine does this? I have seen the nailers from Pistorius that drive v-nails from the backside of the joint and very expensive machines that tongue and groove and also dowel the joint. I need some help on where to start.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor D:
Was it a corrugated fastener that you saw? I have a gun that shoots them but you have to be very careful and angle them just right or you would split the wood. I may be in the minority but I use biscuits on stuff like this.

From contributor J:
I guess I'm in the minority too because I've used biscuits for years and never had a joint fail. I think sometimes we underrate biscuits. I also occasionally use hardwood splines that run all the way through the joint. The splines look good too, particularly if you use a different species wood. I'm partial to oak with mahogany splines. Both of these joints are quick and easy plus they're strong.

From contributor W:
Hoffman has a machine that cuts dovetails and uses wood or plastic "bowties" from the backside of doors. They are sandable and strong also.

From contributor B:
I would suggest using pocket screws with plugs. I don't use them much where they're visible, but with a painted finish on the back of a door they are completely acceptable. They make assembly quick, easy and accurate.

From contributor I:
I use my Hoffman machine extensively for this. Make sure to use two butterflies instead of just one.

From contributor R:
I use the Hoffman as well. There is no clamping or holding required for assembly. If you want a "high end" look, you can use shorter keys and cap them with solid wood, which you can buy in long lengths from Hoffman. It’s just like capping a screw hole with a flush plug.