Beyond Miters and Butt Joints: Custom Deck Border

May 18, 2017

Going a few steps beyond the usual methods for hiding end-grain.

In this video the Samurai Carpenter, Jesse de Geest, shows a more refined method for hiding the end grain of deck boards while creating a distinctive corner detail.

How to do it:

  • The red cedar deck boards are run long and trimmed in place with a plunge-cutting track saw.
  • The first cut is made long and at an angle so the blade comes through inboard of the trimmer below and does not cut the membrane that is wrapped over top of it.
  • Next cut is square at the point where the border will butt the ends of the boards.
  • End cuts are rounded over with a laminate trimmer to match the edge of the border piece.
  • A miter at the corner of the border will open as the lumber dries so the Samurai Carpenter half laps the pieces and allows them to overhang the joint
  • After gluing the joint and fastening the border pieces he trims the overhangs to 1” and rounds over the end cuts


A few comments:

  • I like the way he back-cut the deck boards to keep the blade from hitting the membrane.
  • Rounding over the ends of the cut deck boards to match the border piece is a nice touch because butting round-to-round looks better than butting round-to-square
  • The half-lap looks better than a miter, but in spite of having “killed the edges” (compressed the fibers prior to assembly) it’s still possible the joints will open as the boards dry. And over time, seasonal movement may cause the short-grain pieces at the overhangs to come off of the boards.
  • It took me a minute to figure out which brands/models of power tools the Samurai Carpenter was using. All are Makita—which for some reason have been painted black. 


—David Frane is a freelance editor and a good buddy of ours. Formerly, he was editor of Tools of the Trade magazine and website. He lives in Northern California.