First try at mortise and tenon joints

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Blog entry by Ben posted 02-18-2012 12:43 AM 10027 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So, yesterday I was making a frame for an antique carved panel and decided to try mortise and tenon for the joints. Just square ones, not mitered or anything. I never tried them before, but of course I didn’t even consider that. Never know how if ya don’t try it anyway right? So I dove right in and cut the tenons on the table saw. Easy peasy, that went great and took almost no time at all. THEN I set about cutting the mortises. Pretty much as soon as I got the tenons finished and was thinking about the mortises, I thought DUH, I should have done the mortise first. Oh well, maybe next time.
I don’t have a dedicated mortiser or even the drill press attachment, so I set up my drill press to drill most of the waste out of the holes. By the time I got to the third one, I realized my holes were way off center. WTF? My first one was dead on. How did this happen? Apparently, when I set up my drill press (a Rikon radial DP) I forgot to lock the radial adjustment, so as I went it walked quite a bit. Lovely.
Ok, so let’s try this again… I redrilled my holes even bigger, chiseled out the mortises and glued in some filler blocks. I am getting pretty good at fixing mistakes if nothing else. I went through the whole process again, double checking ALL of my setup. In the end, I have reasonably square if not perfect joints. by the last one, I was feeling pretty good about doing them. I will definitely go about it different next time, as I now have a pretty solid list of what NOT to do. I’ll update with pictures of the finished project later.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

5 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3683 days

#1 posted 02-18-2012 01:27 AM

Glad to hear you tried something new. Stepping out of the comfort zone, as THEY say!

You know what else THEY say; No pictures it didn’t happen! Lol.

Looking forward to seeing pictures of the new (to you) joinery & the project.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View mywood's profile


6 posts in 3298 days

#2 posted 02-18-2012 02:50 AM least u started something..hmmm better try to do some project with nice new joinery too!!

-- fairuz,shah alam

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3817 days

#3 posted 02-18-2012 03:57 AM

Ben, you ll find that learning what not to do is the best teacher.

View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3850 days

#4 posted 02-18-2012 03:11 PM

LOL! your on your way! If you need a good DVD that includes a simple and similar approach Mark Daginski (sp) has a couple of DVD’s that are pretty straight forward. Just reviewing them before going where you are travling.Using a drill press, then a band saw, and sneaking up on it.

Good luck.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4342 days

#5 posted 02-19-2012 07:19 PM

Hi Ben. That fixing experience will serve you well in the future so have no regrets as long as your project is still intact. Now I’m glad I didn’t buy a radial drill press because I know I would do the same thing every time I used it!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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