A Butterfly joint is a type of joint used either to hold two or more wooden boards together or to keep two halves of a board that have already started to split from splitting further. They may also be used to stabilize the core of a knothole, preventing it from dropping out over time.
A butterfly joint resembles two dovetails connected at the narrow part. A negative of the hole is cut out of the board the butterfly will be placed in and the butterfly is then fitted, keeping the joint together. The wood used for the butterfly is usually a contrasting wood, often walnut.
Butterfly joints are common in the work of George Nakashima. They were also used in repairing cracks in tabletops in the 18th century. The "butterfly" was installed across the crack to stabilize and inhibit further movement of the crack.
- Hargreaves, Andrea. "George Nakashima." Woodworkers Institute, 2008. http://www.woodworkersinstitute.com/page.asp?p=624
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