Custom Furniture and Custom Woodwork Joinery Options

Pocket Screws and Glue


This is the most basic joint I do, and I reserve this only for pieces that don't require higher-strength joints. Things like small desk shelves and appliance covers can be made with this joinery. The holes for the screws can be filled with dowels, then cut flush to the face of the board they are drilled through.

Dowel Tenons

Custom furniture - meditation stools.

This joint is only a little more complex than pocket screws, but provides added durability by allowing the long grain of the dowels to be glued to the long grain inside their mortises in each board. It also eliminates the exterior holes that are visible with pocket screws. The legs of these meditation stools were joined to the seats using dowel tenons.

Box Joints/Finger Joints


Box joints are constructed by creating an offset series of cuts in two joining boards which then slide together like fingers lacing together. They work fine when the boards are aligned in the same direction, such as the boards around a box or chest, but wouldn't provide the durability needed for opposed-grain joints like a rail attached to a stile.

Mortise and Tenon


The mortise and tenon is the go-to joint for creating long-lasting and durable pieces of furniture. It is made by creating a housing in the face of one board which accepts a tenon on the end of another board. It provides excellent strength and durability by maximizing the surface area of the long grain to long grain contact so the glue can attain maximum hold, and also provides good mechanical strength.

Splined Miters

Custom woodwork - decorative serving tray.

Miter joints are one of the more visually appealing because they allow a seemingly continues grain structure around a box, tray, or other small piece. But, the most basic form of the joint doesn't provide as much strength as others because it glues end grain to end grain. This is why splines are added. A spline is a narrow piece of wood that is added into the joint to increase the surface area for glue. This provides durability, and when using a nice contrasting wood, it also adds a decorative element to the piece. The miters on this serving tray were strengthened with two splines. The bottom contrasting wood is an inlay.



Dovetails provide excellent strength and a decorative appearance. They are made by creating "tails" in one board, which are like a short section of a triangle, which join into a series of "pins" on the joining board, which are also like a section of a triangle but facing perpendicular to the direction of the tails. The tails and pins lock together due to the angles that join their sides together. This joint can be used for a variety of functions, but isn't suitable for some joinery where a mortise and tenon is most appropriate.

Other Joinery Options

There are other joints that will be used for various projects, but there isn't much need to provide photographs of them, as they are either less structural or less visible. These include, but may not be limited to, tongue and groove, dado, simple slat housing (essentially a mortise), panel edge joint, and various different versions of the above joinery options.

Finish Options

Simple Clear Coat

Custom woodwork - maple serving tray with photo transfer.

This basic finish option will be the most common for most woods. It is a basic finish using any film-forming clear coat, such as polyurethane, clear acrylic, lacquer, shellac, or any of a variety of clear or semi-clear "fast-drying" finishes. It results in some of the most true-to-nature color for the wood while still providing substantial reduction in the speed of moisture transfer with the surrounding environment, as well as scratch resistance. This serving tray and the photo transfer were finished with a clear water-based finish.

Dye Stains


Dyes are used for a couple reasons: decorative effect, and resistance to color changes due to time and/or UV exposure. Some woods want to be dyed, or they tend to lose their color over time. For example, walnut lightens significantly with time and UV exposure. Dying the piece will create a barrier of color that will resist fading much more than the wood itself.

Pigment Stains/Glazing


Pigment stains lay down particles of color on the surface of wood, and especially within the tiny grooves between the fibers. Pigment stains can be used for a variety of purposes. The walnut coat rack above was both dyed and glazed before clear coating.

UV Protective Clear Coats


For custom furniture and other pieces that will get significant exposure to UV light, such as pieces that sit under windows, I will use at least one coat of spar urethane, a marine finish that is formulated to stand up better to exposure than other film finishes. For outdoor pieces that use costly woods, I will do all the clear finish layers with spar urethane. I use Epifanes brand, which has been rated among the best outdoor clear coats available. This custom desk top includes one thick layer of spar urethane to protect it from the sunlight it will be exposed to under its adjacent window.

Stabilizing and Heavy Finishes

Custom furniture - meditation stool.

If a wood needs to be stabilized due to softness or insect damage, I will soak and fill all voids, recesses, and rotted wood with a two-part tabletop epoxy that will cure into a hard plastic that provides UV protection as well as  strength and stability. It also produces a gorgeous deepening of the wood's natural colors. This spalted maple meditation stool seat was soaked and subsequently finished with a thick layer of epoxy.


Custom woodwork. Kitchenware. Oven rack stick.

Pieces for use in cooking, serving, or storage of food will be finished using the best finish for the job at hand. Technically, all regular film-forming finishes are food-safe once fully cured, but many aren't suitable for certain uses. For example, no film finish should ever be applied to a cutting board, as the film can chip off into the food, which isn't a safety concern so much as it is unpleasant. Most kitchenware will not require any finish at all. Cutting boards need no finish, and applying oil to them is hardly even worth the effort and expense, as oil provides very little protective effect. Vessels for storing dry goods will be finished with the desired film finish and will be left to cure for up to 30 days before shipping, unless you want to receive it sooner and allow the full curing process at your home/business.

Other Finish Options

There are a few other finish options for your custom furniture. These include but may not be limited to paint, layered distressing, french polish, oil and/or wax.

Custom Order Billing Policy and Cancellation Policy

For custom orders that exceed a $300 estimate, I require a payment of 1/2 of the estimate up front. The remainder is due upon completion of the project, which will be shipped out once the final payment is received. For custom orders estimated at or under the $300 threshold, full payment is due up front. If labor is less than anticipated, a refund will be issued.

For custom orders, I will accept payment by credit/debit card, PayPal payments, or money order, or cash if paying in person.

If my estimate exceeds the true final price of the item, the second payment will be reduced to make up the difference. I will never charge more than the estimate so long as the initially agreed-upon piece is not altered. If, however, alterations to the design/construction are made by the customer, I reserve the right to adjust my estimate and charge for the added materials and labor accordingly.

For custom orders under the $300 threshold, I will accept cancellations within 7 days of the initial order. For those custom orders exceeding the $300 threshold, I will accept cancellations at any time during the process, but some or all of the first half payment will be forfeit, depending on how far along in the production process I am. If a cancellation is received on one of these custom orders, I will make clear what portion of and for what specific reasons the payment in advance will be reserved.

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Contact me today to begin planning your custom furniture or custom woodwork. Please note that I bill for time spent beyond the first hour of communication. I do not, however, bill for time communicating if I am asking for approval of changes or for general updates I send out.

ORO Woodworks

Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States

(405) 334-7445


Monday - Sunday: 8am - 5pm