How to Assemble Langstroth Frames
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Types of Joints for Building Beehives

The good news is that many beehive build plans keep it simple. You use only four different joinery techniques for many beehive builds.

You can join wood together using all kinds of techniques. Collectively, these techniques are referred to as joinery. The list of different joinery methods used in woodworking is long and diverse. Some techniques are very complex and require special skills and equipment.

Butt joints

It just doesn’t come easier than butt joinery. In this technique, you join two pieces of lumber at a 90-degree angle by simply butting them together. Done!

It’s easy as pie to make a butt joint, but it’s the least robust of the various joinery
It’s easy as pie to make a butt joint, but it’s the least robust of the various joinery techniques.

Although the butt joint is the simplest to make, it’s also the weakest. And over time, the rain, humidity, heat, and cold cause the joinery to split open. Though these openings may provide some nice ventilation and an extra entrance for the bees, you’ll find them quite impractical in every other way.

Make this simple but weak joint as strong as possible by cutting the wood true and clean and by using a weatherproof wood glue and screws (not nails).

Rabbet cuts and dado joints

It takes some a while to sort out the difference between rabbets and dadoes. Here’s a definition of each of these similar joinery techniques:

  • Rabbet: A rabbet (called a rebate in the UK) is a recess cut into the edge of a piece of wood. When viewed in cross-section, a rabbet is two-sided and open along the edge of the wood. Think of a rabbet as the letter L. Rabbet cuts are sometimes used to join two pieces of wood together, but they’re also used to create shelves or ledges (such as the shelf upon which the frames rest).

  • Dado: A dado (called a housing or trench joint in Europe) is a grooved slot cut into the surface of a piece of wood. When viewed in cross-section, a dado has three sides. Think of a dado as the letter U.

    The measurement of the dado cut is identical to the thickness of the piece of wood that fits into the dado. For example, you use this form of joinery when building a bottom board. A 3/4-inch dado cut into the side rails accommodates the 3/4-inch-thick plywood floor. Dado joinery results in a solid, strong connection between two pieces of wood.

    A rabbet cut is shaped like an <i>L.</i>
    A rabbet cut is shaped like an L.
    A dado is shaped like a <i>U.</i>
    A dado is shaped like a U.

Finger joints

Finger joinery (also known as box joinery or comb joinery) involves square interlocking fingers that join two pieces of lumber at a right angle. Although a little tricky to make, this is, hands down, about the strongest method of joining two pieces of wood together.

Finger joinery is as strong as it gets.
Finger joinery is as strong as it gets.

You can make the cuts for finger joints using your table saw equipped with a stacked dado blade. You cut the lumber vertically over the table. Though the cut on a table saw is straight vertical and very precise, the tricky part is to get the spacing right.

Here’s where box joint jigs or templates come into play. A jig saves time and guarantees the precision of your joints. You can purchase a commercially made one for around $60. Or you can make your own jig out of scrap wood for virtually nothing. The Internet has tons of plans for making a finger joint jig — just do a search on the web.

Using a finger joint jig and a stacked dado blade on your table saw saves time and ensures that cut
Using a finger joint jig and a stacked dado blade on your table saw saves time and ensures that cuts are accurate.
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Building Beehives: Checking Regional Laws and Requirements
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