Reply by Manitario

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Posted on Mortise and Tenon

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2781 posts in 3391 days

#1 posted 11-11-2018 04:18 PM

There are many, many different ways of doing a M+T joint, and all of them claim to be faster and/or better than every other way. The most important skills you need in beginning to do this joint is the ability to have straight/square stock (if your stock is not square, you’ll never have good joints) and the ability to accurately mark the layout of the mortise and tenons on your stock. Several large categories of ways of doing this joint. As a beginner I tried a number of different methods and eventually settled on what I find easiest (Tablesaw for the tenons and dedicated mortiser for the mortises) but there is no one “right” way of doing this.

1)Router jigs: eg. the Leigh Jig and similar, which cut both the mortise and the tenon, or eg. the Mortise Pal, which just cuts the mortise. Also many different jigs etc. on cutting the tenon on the router table.

2)Tablesaw tenoning jigs: many variations on the same simple design. They cut the tenon only.

3)Mortiser: Range from drill press attachments (avoid!) to benchtop to dedicated floor machines. Usually quick and accurate.

4)Drillpress: use forstner bits to hog out the mortise waste and the pare out the rest with chisels

5)Hand tools

6)Festool Domino

My advice is to learn the principles of how to lay out the joint and avoid buying some sort of fancy jig in the beginning. Most of us have jigs that we’ve bought as beginners and then almost never use. Start simple eg. drill press and forstner bits for mortise and simple tenon jig for the TS. Once you’ve had a some time doing M+T joints, you’ll have a lot better perspective on what improvements/additions to your system you want. has an “online access” membership option for fairly cheap (I think I pay $7/month) and gives you access to their huge archive in which there is a lot of great articles on M+T joints.

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