There's a picture below but I'll try to describe it as well.

Where two pieces of wood cross over and touch face to face. They are fastened with glue, nails, etc. One piece may overlap the other (see edges of pallet) or not (see corner of pallet). Note that the pieces are not cut - apart from to length.

What do you call this joint?

pallet joint

  • I have taken apart a hundred pallets and never found one with glue. The nails are often square and have a spiral. May 15, 2021 at 15:13
  • @blacksmith37, yes pallets are always just nailed together IME. But this joint can be glued, and would be in a different woodworking context such as those mentioned in my Answer.
    – Graphus
    May 17, 2021 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


The answer is actually sort of in the wording of the Question, these are a type of overlap joint, sometimes called an overlay joint.

Because the pieces of wood don't interlock in any manner it makes construction very fast, but it's little used outside of rough carpentry. In a 'proper woodworking' context you might only see this used for the construction of shop furniture, or utility shelving.

Unfortunately these days the overlap joint is being mixed up with the lap joint (such as in the Wikipedia entry *sigh*) but, in woodworking at least, a lap joint is exclusively where one or both pieces have cut joinery and the two pieces don't merely lay on top of each other.

  • I think the more proper name for this is a "butt joint." Is there some difference between what you're calling an overlap joint and a butt joint or is it just another name for the same thing?
    – EricS
    May 16, 2021 at 22:01
  • In the pallet the ends could be called a butt joint, although often this refers to a slightly different orientation of the two pieces. There's some — gah please pardon the pun! — overlap in joint names since technically a mitre joint is a type of butt joint. But the body of the Question specifically refers to "Where two pieces of wood cross over and touch face to face", which is, AFAIK, exclusively referred to as an overlap joint although the term is not widely used today.
    – Graphus
    May 17, 2021 at 7:47
  • I was commenting that in older pallets I found only nails. May 18, 2021 at 23:35
  • @blacksmith37, yes I know, and I responded that it's the same in my experience. But in a broader context the joint can be glued, just pointing that out.
    – Graphus
    May 19, 2021 at 6:15

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