mortise and tenon #2

tenoning jig

I had previously built my tenoning jig for my other table saws fence with scrap plywood (I tend to build a lot of jigs out of left overs) and it worked fairly well.  It consisted of nothing more than a few pieces of plywood which slid along my table saws rip fence.

My new tenoning jig is made by the same company that made my table saw (although probably not in the same factory).  The new one is a lot more “heavy-duty” and has more adjustability.  Like my mortising machine mentioned in mortise and tenon #1, I had previously put it together and then set it aside, waiting on the opportunity to use it.

tenoning jig w/sacrificial fence

tenoning jig w/sacrificial fence

I mentioned above that the tenoning jig was built by the same manufacturer as my table saw for a reason.  As I set up the jig and fine tuned it – there were a couple of options that were available, depending upon your table saw.  Like most manufacturers of similar tools, the jig was built to fit any number of table saws – but since the jig and the saw are both from the same manufacture, I would have thought the fit would have been better.  In particular, you are supposed to set up the jig so that the face you clamp you board to is right up next to your saw blade, then back it off a certain distance and set a “stop” to keep the jig from encountering the blade.  Well, I never could get to that “zero” point – so the scale on the machine that I guess you are supposed to use to make adjustments by is essentially useless.  No worries, I’d probably wouldn’t have used it anyway – but I did have to build a sacrificial fence to get me close to that “zero” blade distance (see photo above).

cutting the tenon

Once determining the shoulder and initial cheek depth (and marking them on the stock) I made the shoulder cuts on the table saw.  I then set the quite heavy jig on the table saw and set the rail in the jig and adjusted it to cut just shy of the cheek line on the stock.   The purpose of this it to “creep up on” the depth of the tenon.  I’ll make the cut on one side of the rail, flip the rail over in the jig, cut the cheek on the other side, then test fit the piece into the mortise made previously.  I’ll do this repeatedly until I get a nice snug fit.

cutting the cheek on the tenon

cutting the cheek on the tenon

Once satisfied with the cheek depth, I’ll rotate the stock 90 degrees and cut the side cheeks in the same manor.

final fit

Now satisfied with the mortise and tenon it was time to mate the pieces.  For that the tenon simply slides into the previously cut mortise.  The fit is supposed to be snug – not too loose and definitely not something you have to hammer in.  Also, once in, the fit should not be sloppy – that is, you should not be able to “wiggle” the two pieces.  The photo below show both the rail and stile stock before and after the fitting.

m&t final fitting

m&t final fitting

I have to say I’ve very pleased with how it turned out and quite impressed with how sturdy this joint type is.  I can see that with a little glue this would be a rock solid connection.

Beyond just glue – you can also add a peg through the mortise and tenon to further lock the pieces together (possibly eliminating the need for glue all together) and if you are even more inclined you can create a draw bore tenon in which the hole drilled in the mortise and tenon are slightly off center of each other – which will draw the tenon into the mortise when the peg is installed – then that puppy ain’t goin’ nowhere….


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