finger joint

How Finger Joint Boards Make Campus Furniture More Sustainable

In Blog, Climate Friendly Furniture, Green Manufacturing, nuts and bolts, solid wood, Wood is Good by Morgan Dix

When you think about sustainability and dorm furniture, you probably don’t visualize the wood joint that holds it all together.

But that would be a mistake. Joints matter. A lot.

And not just for durability and strength.

In particular, I want to highlight the positive impact that finger joint boards can have on the overall resource footprint of your campus furniture.

In fact, finger joints conserve more wood than any other wood joint. You might be surprised when I tell you just how much.

But before we get into that, let’s quickly review some woodworking basics.

How To Build Wood Panels

The basic building block of solid wood furniture is the wood panel. Cabinet sides, tops, drawer fronts. They’re all made from wood panels.

And there are different ways to make panels.

The traditional way is to glue solid wood boards together, edge to edge. Those boards run parallel and join up together lengthwise to create a panel.

On larger panels, in order to get boards that are free and clear of defects—think knots or other irregularities in the grain—you need to process the wood to remove those defects.

But that creates wood waste.

What Is A Finger Joint Board?

decorative Finger joint board

Decorative finger joint board

In contrast, finger jointing takes smaller wood segments and joins them together—end to end—to complete the longer wood board for the panel.

When you use finger joint boards in the panels, the overall yield can increase up to 25%, depending on the grade of the wood.

In woodworking terms, and when it comes to processing solid wood, that’s a dramatic yield increase. Read, a lot less waste!

Instead of continuous long wood boards glued together, finger jointed panels are composed of boards made of smaller strips of wood glued together lengthwise.

In essence, it’s made up of many shorter pieces of wood.

Mortise and tenon joint

Finger Joint Board Strength & Durability

There is no negative impact on structural integrity or durability. Finger joints are just as strong as the longer strips of wood.

And in terms of joints, finger joints are as strong as—in some cases stronger than—the fabled mortise and tenon after you apply adhesives.

How It Looks

One factor to consider is how finger jointing can change the appearance of your furniture. Unlike a single length of board, a finger jointed board can feature inconsistencies in the grain pattern.

The effect of this appearance depends on individual preference and aesthetics.

For us, wood is always beautiful, but when you consider the sustainability impacts of finger joint boards, we love it even more.

The Best Choice For Wood Panels

In our experience, using finger joint boards is the most sustainable way to make long-lasting solid wood panels.

That’s why we’re encouraging you to evaluate it as a preferred solution. Because there’s so much less waste.

Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Dirk Bartens, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Jordanhill School D&T Dept