Asian furniture, especially antique Chinese furniture, adds a distinct element of tranquility and elegance to any space.

One way of enhancing one’s appreciation of Chinese solid wood furniture is to understand the traditional joinery techniques employed by the masters. Although the study of joinery may not seem like a natural approach to the aesthetically inclined observer, the techniques employed play an important part in the overall effect. The beauty and harmony that one experiences when viewing masterpieces is often the result of a unity that lies beneath the surface. In traditional Chinese joinery, the separate parts of a piece of furniture are not only connected together to form a functional object, but also showcase very advanced architectural conceptualizations. Techniques of wood joinery began with an ancient intuitively technological culture and developed through continuous evolution. Further heights of sophistication and refinement were reached during the early Qing and Ming dynasties along with the organized manufacturing of hardwood furniture.

One fascinating fact is that there are limitless combinations of joints that are possible in Chinese furniture. Familiarity with the major types and typical applications is somewhat necessary for anyone interested in Chinese furniture. It is important to remember that the joinery should be consistent, and the construction should be logical. If irregularities are observed, it is likely that the piece is not authentic or that it has been changed from its original form.

To begin, the most basic joint in Chinese cabinet making is the mortise and tenon.  Many types of mortise-and-tenon joints can be found in antique Chinese furniture. This antique Chinese sideboard is a great example of mortise and tenon joinery.


In the butt-joined mortise and tenon, whichis the most rudimentary mortise and tenon joint, the ends of both of the separate pieces to be joined are squared. If the ends are cut at an angle, it is called a mitered joint. However, a joint can only be mitered on one side or both sides.

Other, more advanced and noteworthy Chinese joinery techniques are the Recessed Leg, Frame and Panel, Corner Leg, and Bamboo Style Construction.

Authentic vintage Chinese furniture exhibiting these incredible joinery techniques can be found at Terra Nova Asian and Contemporary Furniture in LosAngeles. Visit our web site here to browse our beautiful collection of Asian furniture: