How to Create a Half-Lap Joint

In situations where two pieces of wood need to be tightly connected at right angles (for example constructing a wooden gate) a half-lap joint is ideal. Here are a few tips to make an easy half-lap joint:

  • Measure the width and thickness of the wood
  • Mark a square line the same distance from the end of the board as the board is wide
  • Use a circular saw, with the blade depth set at half the thickness of the board, to cut on that line
  • Then make additional cuts every 1/8 inch or so out to the end of the board (this is the waste wood)
  • Use a hammer to break out the bulk of the waste wood and a wood chisel to scrape out the rest and smooth out the cut
  • When you have done this with both pieces of wood they can be overlapped to create a tight interlocking joint. Glue and screws will help hold the boards in place while the edges or shoulders of the joint support the weight


  1. Used technique on very wide deck gate. Surprisingly easy! Found rasp planer to be easier than wood chisel to smooth out joint after knocking out the material between cuts.


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