Entertainment Center #8: Mortise and Tenon - Part 2

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Blog entry by Dano posted 07-19-2007 04:36 AM 1789 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Sidebar - Mortise and Tenon Part 1 Part 8 of Entertainment Center series Part 9: Frustration.................! »

Crap, now the time has come to cut the tenons. The jig I have built has 4 holes in it so you can cut both sides of the tenon at the same time, I wrestle with getting the second hole placed for a ¼ inch tenon, it takes more time to get right than I wanted to spend but I finally got it close enough. Finally, time to make more oak saw dust. But wait, do you cut the cheeks or the shoulder first? I think I remember seeing it done on TV both ways, so I sazzzs to myself, make a decision and push on, so I do. I elect to cut the shoulders first. I set the fence for a 1 and a quarter inch tenon and set the saw blade for a quarter inch deep cut. Using my new miter gauge this goes well and quickly, now, time to cut the cheeks. I then began to doubt my choice for order of the cuts because again my mind kicks in and I realize that as I cut the cheeks there will be a think piece of lumber free to be projected back in my direction!

The jig rides in the right miter slot so the cut off pieces will be ballistic in my direction since I usually stand just to the left. After my last incident I am more safety conscious and in this case it probably paid off. 32 cheeks to cut, the smallest piece of loosed oak would be about an eighth inch thick one and an eighth wide and a minimum of two inches long. My science degree from years ago kicks in and I think of a 10 inch diameter blade doing over 1750 rpm and the size of the probable projectile, crap, that could hurt and I have hurt enough lately, I better move to the right and guard the probable departure path. Sure enough probably 25% of the pieces flew out of the saw towards the wall separating the garage from the kitchen (another SLE). One hit with such force, my wife already jumpy from my previous mental vacation, came out to see if I was still in one piece and not bleeding! Woodworking requires you to keep you head in the game, if you don’t it will remind you!

To cut the tenons to width I used my 9 inch bandsaw, I love the bandsaw and I am lusting after a 14 inch one like the Rickon, but I digress. I fit each tenon to the mortises, from previous post you know that I elected to leave the just a tad fat and then adjust them down, the old adage, you can take more off but you can’t add more, ran through my head many, many times in my though process. Note in the picture there is a small ridge of waste (wood burr) where the shoulder meets the cheek. Table saw adjustment is critical but I had cut all the shoulders already so I elect to use a chisel to clean this area too because if I don’t the joints don’t fit well.


SLEs (Significant Learning Events) One, think about the cuts before hand to see if you are going to place yourself in the line of fire by projecting chunks of wood from rapidly rotating machinery. Second, ensure precision in your cuts so you don’t spend a great deal of time cleaning up wood burrs and finally sharpen those chisels!
I think I have developed a learning exercise for mortise and tenons for all anyone like me that haven’t much experience with them. I am going to give it a try and if it works I’ll post the plan.

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

8 comments so far

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5281 days

#1 posted 07-19-2007 04:41 AM

LOL..I was reading your order of cuts on the tablesaw and thinking the same thing. I cut the shoulders first when doing them by hand, but last on the tablesaw. The process looks like it’s a success though.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1823 posts in 5331 days

#2 posted 07-19-2007 04:52 AM

Looking good Dan. LOL safety first…I was putting on a new blade on my bandsaw and the guard was off. Leaned in close to look at the guides and cut my forehead on the blade. Now I have 3 dots dead center.

-- Bob

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5242 days

#3 posted 07-19-2007 05:01 AM

Coming right along – fun to follow this…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View jaspr's profile


38 posts in 5218 days

#4 posted 07-19-2007 05:29 AM

Great blog Dano. I’m looking forward to future posts.

-- Claire

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5406 days

#5 posted 07-19-2007 01:35 PM

what better way to teach a lesson than through the trial and error.
I got the message LOUD and CLEAR—- safety; safety; safety!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View piper's profile


101 posts in 5322 days

#6 posted 07-19-2007 02:35 PM

thanks for helping to protect the rest of us from ourselves

-- piper

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 5277 days

#7 posted 07-20-2007 02:14 AM

Thanks for the good words folks, trial and error can hurt sometime and if I can help another newbie save some pain and frustration I will consider my job done.

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 5344 days

#8 posted 07-20-2007 02:36 AM


Thanks for posting about the tenon cutting and talking about using the 9 inch bandsaw. I too would like to get a 14 (or larger?) band saw.
Plus thanks for talking about standing to one side while using the table saw. I always try to stand to the side out of the line of fire because I am expecting kickback. Like a couple of days ago…

-- John

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