Mortise and Tenon Joints
Mortise and Tenon Basics
The mortise-and-tenon is one of the strongest joints in woodworking... and the recent popularity of arts-and-crafts (mission) furniture has also made it one of the most popular.
Tenons are usually 1/3 the thickness of the mating stock and centered (3/4" stock = 1/4" tenon). The mortise should be about 3/4 the width of the mating stock. For blind joints, the tenon should be a bit shorter than the mortise depth, to allow room for glue. (4" wide stock = 1 7/16" long tenon.
Which first - mortise or tenon? The mortise should always be cut first, because it's far easier to shave tenon dimensions than it is to enlarge mortises.
Eight Common Mortise-and-Tenon Joints
Shopsmith Mortising Catalog
Which Mortising Method?
Slot mortises are created by drilling or routing, then sized and squared with a chisel. Hollow chisel mortises are created by a square, tubular chisel with a drill bit inside. This method is faster and requires less sizing and squaring.
Which Tenoning Method?
Tenons can be formed by making repetitive dado blade passes with the stock laying flat on the work table surface - or by making (usually) six cuts with a regular saw blade and a tenoning jig that lets you stand the stock on end to cut the broad sides of the tenons cheeks. Routers can also cut tenons, using special jigs.
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