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Sevenoaks A21 / M25 junction 4
Sevenoaks A21 / M25 J4

What is a rabbet joint?

Our team of cabinet makers bring their many years of combined experience and expertise to create pieces that are not only aesthetically attractive, they are robust and built to last.

Here we explain one of the classic joints that is often used in our cabinet and furniture construction.

When is a rabbet joint used?

A rabbet joint is commonly used when the backs of a cabinet, or piece of furniture, are recessed into its sides.

Rabbet joints are a neat and subtle way to reduce the amount of ‘end grain’ that is visible on a corner.

This sort of attention to detail in cabinetry and furniture construction makes a huge difference to the overall appearance.

How to make a rabbet joint

A rabbet joint is essentially a groove cut into the side or end of a wooden plank or panel. This forms a channel with a ‘tongue’ and one vertical side, that neatly interlocks with its opposing piece.

Rabbet joint

This style of joint is stronger than a simple butt joint, which is formed by placing the ends of two wooden pieces together.

The rabbet joint increases the amount of surface area available for adhesion. In addition, a tightly fitting rabbet joint benefits from the outer vertical side, which adds strength to protect the joint.

Rabbet joints in cabinet and furniture construction

Rabbet joints are commonly used for:

  • joining sides of woodwork such as kitchen cabinetry and drawers
  • creating an inset in the back of a cabinet to hold the back panelling
  • forming the joints for the ends of shelving.

Advantages of a rabbet joint

Rabbet joints have the following benefits in handmade cabinetry and furniture making:


They create a robust form for box-like structures such as cabinets and drawers, which ensures stability and longevity.


Rabbet joints offer the flexibility to conceal joins and seams, for example under a countertop, to give a streamlined appearance. Their structure minimises the amount of end grain that is visible.

Disadvantages of a rabbet joint

For some projects, rabbet joints may not be the best option, our team of craftsmen always choose the approach that will bring the right balance of strength and appearance.


Care is needed when aligning rabbet joints, they cannot be easily adjusted once assembled, so precision is always necessary.

Curved and tapered edges

Rabbet joints are suited to woodwork with straight edges, so curved or tapered edges will require an alternative approach.

Rabbet joint variations

Depending on the project, there are variations in the style of the rabbet joint that can be used to achieve the best results, such as a ‘mitred’ or ‘dovetail’ rabbet joints.

Rabbet joint
Image credit: HValley Tools / Pinterest.
Vince Hone

Since founding Great British Kitchens & Interiors back in 1984, Vince has worked tirelessly to create exquisite spaces for hundreds of clients to cook, entertain, work and relax in.