A castle joint (also known as Shiro Joint) is one of the strongest wood joints used when building furniture, beds, or tables. The way the wood pieces are assembled not only provides a strong bond but also makes the joint stand out aesthetically.
In a traditional way, you make a castle joint by using a saw (preferably a Japanese saw) and a chisel. However, you can also cut a castle joint on a table saw using a tenoning jig and a miter gauge (crosscut sled).
If you are planning to make several castle joints, the easiest and quickest way to do it is by using a table saw tenoning jig with a miter gauge. Once the tenoning jig and the miter gauge are set, you can precisely and repeatedly cut the individual parts of the castle joint.
Setting up the jigs to find the right position for the cuts might take some time in the beginning. But once you have it, cutting the is quite simple. I used this method the create an outdoor coffee table and it took me no more than 1 hour to cut all the joints.
In this article, I will walk you through step-by-step how to make a castle joint with a table saw. Here you will find all the information about what type of table saw blade is best for the job, how to make a tenoning jig to cut the castle and the tenons, or how to use a miter gauge to cut the shoulders of the tenons and to cut the cross-lap joints.
If you don’t have a miter gauge in the shop you can easily use a crosscut sled with a stopper to make the cuts.
Table of Contents
- General Questions
- Is it safe to cut a castle joint on a table saw?
- Is it possible to cut a perfect castle joint on a table saw?
- What are the drawbacks of cutting a castle joint on a table saw?
- How to Cut a Castle Joint on a Table Saw
- Step 1: Cut the Castle
- Step 2: Cut the Tenons in the Horizontal Parts
- Step 3: Cut the Cross-Lap Joints in the Tenons
- Step 4: Assemble the Castle Joint
- Key Takeaways When Making a Castle Joint on a Table Saw
- Woodworking Jigs used for the project
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
Is it safe to cut a castle joint on a table saw?
Cutting a castle joint on a table saw is safe. However, it is necessary to observe all safety precautions and to use the right tools for the job, namely a tenoning jig and a miter gauge (or a crosscut sled).
Keep your hands as far away from the blade as possible and use protective equipment such as glasses and hearing protectors.
Is it possible to cut a perfect castle joint on a table saw?
Yes, you can cut a perfect castle joint on a table saw by using a table saw tenoning jig and a miter gauge. After setting up the tenoning jig and the miter gauge, you can cleanly and repeatedly cut the individual parts of the castle joint.
The tenoning jig is used to cut the castle and the tenons. The miter gauge is used to cut the shoulders of the tenons and to cut the cross-lap joints.
What are the drawbacks of cutting a castle joint on a table saw?
Cutting a castle joint on a table saw is quick and you can achieve great results. Nevertheless, there are a few drawbacks to this approach. Here are a few cases when it is better to make a castle joint in a traditional way by using a saw and a chisel.
- Size of the castle joint. It is better to use a saw and a chisel when making a large castle joint. Cutting large pieces of wood on a table saw is difficult if not impossible.
- The precision of the castle joint. It is better to use a saw and a chisel to cut a precise, accurate, and clean joint.
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A castle joint is typically made out of 3 equal size pieces (width, height). However, it can also be made of wood pieces of different sizes – the principle is the same.
If you have 3 equal size pieces you can set the table saw and the jigs once and then make all the cuts. If the size of the pieces differs for some of the cuts you will need to set up the jigs again.
To get a clean final cut you can use a flat-top grind saw blade. Don’t worry if you don’t have one. You can use a standard table saw blade and then clean the cuts with a chisel.
How to Cut a Castle Joint on a Table Saw
Step 1: Cut the Castle
Draw the castle on the wood piece. Make sure the piece is square and straight (both on the ends and the edges).
- Divide the vertical lines by 3
- The horizontal line equals the width of the other horizontal wood pieces
TIP: The best way how to mark the lines is by using a marking gauge or a combination square.
1. Cut the Bridle Joint
Use a tenoning jig and a flat top grind saw blade to cut the bridle joint. Raise the blade to the horizontal line and move the tenoning jig so the blade touches the inner mark. Lock the fence, when the setting is good.
TIP: Use painter’s tape to prevent wood tear-out.
Make the cut. Rotate the piece 3 times and repeat the cut on the other 3 sides.
Use the tenoning jig to cut the bulk of the material in the inner parts of the joint. Using a flat top grind blade will result in clean cuts.
NOTE: You might consider getting rid of the material from the inner part in another way. Cleaning the material on a table saw is messy. Using a coping saw first to get rid of the main parts and then cleaning the rest on a table saw may seem like a more suitable way.
Step 2: Cut the Tenons in the Horizontal Parts
Reuse the same settings from the marking gauge to draw the cut lines on the tenons.
- Divide the vertical lines by 3
- The horizontal line equals the width of the castle post (Step1)
First, use a tenoning jig to make the main cuts. Make a cut from one side, then rotate 180 degrees and make another cut. Switch to a miter gauge or a crosscut sled. Set the stopper on the table fence and cut off the shoulders of the tenons.
Try the fit. Repeat the process until it is perfect.
TIP: Start your cuts further from the marks (both for the tenoning jig and the miter gauge). You can always sneak up on the cuts.
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Step 3: Cut the Cross-Lap Joints in the Tenons
Mark the cross laps on the tenons. Set the stoppers (either on the table fence or the crosscut sled), set the height of the saw blade, and make the cuts.
Try the fit. Repeat the process until the joint is perfect.
NOTE: It is important to set a stopper and not cut directly against the table saw fence. The workpiece could get caught between the blade and the fence which could result in table saw binding.
Step 4: Assemble the Castle Joint
Assemble all the pieces of the castle joint. To get rid of the imperfections in the joint, you can make a paste from sawdust and apply it to the joint cracks. Then, sand the joint with a sander.
The picture below shows a finished castle joint made on a table saw. Although the joint looks quite complex, it is a relatively simple joint to create.
Key Takeaways When Making a Castle Joint on a Table Saw
- Use a tenoning jig to cut the castle and the tenons in the horizontal parts.
- Use a miter gauge or a crosscut sled with stoppers to cut the tenons and the half-lap joints.
- Start the cuts a little further from the drawn marks and slowly sneak up on them until the cut/joint is perfect.
- Cut the inner parts of the Castle with a coping saw first, then use a tenoning jig to clean the rest.
- Use painter’s tape to prevent wood tear-out.
- Keep sawdust from the cuts.
- Use paste created from glue and sawdust to hide any imperfections in the joints.
Woodworking jigs you will need to cut a castle joint on a table saw
Find the necessary materials and the information on how to make these jigs in the videos below and provided blog posts.