Domino Miter Joint vs. Bridle Joint

Article - September 2, 2008

This week’s question comes from Craig in Springfield, OH who writes:

“I’m getting ready to start my mahogany Barrister’s Bookcase, and I had a quick question. The plans I’m using call for 32 X 14 inch doors with rails and stiles that are only 1 1/4″ wide, (3/4 stock). Since the rails and stiles are so narrow the plans call for a bridle joint. If advisable, I’d like to instead use a mitered joint reinforced with a 5 x 30 mm Domino in the middle of the joint. It’s very important to me that these Barristers last for generations, will the Domino mitered joint hold up to decades of use as well or better than the bridle joint in this particular application? This is the project that I ordered your finishing video for. I thought your video was among the best instructional video’s I’ve seen! Very well done! I will surely purchase more as you make them!”

And this was my reply:
Thanks for the kind words Craig. Glad you enjoyed the video. We will definitely have more out in the future. Now for the Barrister’s Bookcase. I guess my first question would be “why not a bridle joint?”. A bridle joint gives you a huge amount of long grain to long grain glue surface. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to say the joint would be stronger than a reinforced miter. The miter joint itself is not very strong. With reinforcement, it is much better. But that reinforcement simply comes in the form of long grain glue surface (which you would actually maximize with a bridle joint). So yes, I do think a domino-reinforced miter would be very strong and would hold up to generations of use. But if you are comparing the two options, I would guess that the bridle joint would be even stronger. The real question is, do you think you’ll need that extra strength for this application? You’ll have to decide for yourself, but I would say for a small door frame, it probably makes no practical difference.