Mortises and Tenonses

Jun 12 2014

Time for something new. A mortise and tenon joint. Or sixteen. A mortise and tenon is one of the key types of wood joints. A mortise is a hole in one piece of wood, and a tenon is usually a cut down part of another piece of wood. The the cut down part goes in the hole and form a very strong joint.

I start by laying out where the mortises will be. These will be partially inside the grooves I cut in the long pieces. The tenons will be on the shorter pieces.


These are chopped into the wood with a chisel. They are 1/4″ wide. My first time chopping mortises, but it went pretty well.



There are four mortises in each upright piece. Two near the top and two near the bottom. Because they are at right angles to each other, they actually meet inside.



Then, onto the tenons. First layout, then cut.



The tenons went generally pretty well, but my marking gauge must have slipped a bit and the first one I cut was a bit off, causing that cross piece to stick out rather far from the front face. I fixed it by gluing a thin strip of wood to the front of the tenon, and paring a bit off the back. Now it fits perfectly.

The tenons go into the mortises…


And the tenons on the other side go into the other mortises, and voila! We have a frame!



So, eight more mortises to cut, and twelve more tenons, and I’ll have a three-dimensional frame.

Actually, there was another goof I realized today. In looking over the plans, I realized that I’d cut the upright posts 1/16″ too thick and wide. I could have made it work that way, but after examining it in depth, I decided it would be possible to plane that extra bit out and get it to the correct size. I did it on the faces that have the grooves, which meant I had to re-plough the grooves as well to get them back down to the correct depth. But hey, another excuse to use my Record 044! Why not? Anyway, that went just fine and now all my pieces are perfect.

By the way, this is not some design I’ve come up with on my own. It’s part of a course called the WoodWorking Masterclasses, taught by Paul Sellers. If you’re at all interested in learning hand tool woodworking, Paul is a great teacher. I learned so much from his blog and free Youtube videos, that I signed up for the free Masterclass series and that was good enough to make me sign up for the paid membership. The current project in the class is this craftsman-style lamp.


That’s what I’m building. There’s already 2.5 – 3 hours of video covering this project. And I imagine there will be another 2 – 3 hours before it’s done. It’s really in-depth. Just what I need. Actually everything I’ve done here so far is just what’s covered in the first video.

Anyway, with my schedule these days, I don’t imagine I’ll get through the rest of these M&Ts until the end of the weekend. But that’s cool. I slip down into my man cave, plug in an audiobook and hack away at some wood for an hour or two here and there. Great stress reliever.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply