Help with joint choice and layout

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Forum topic by BadHorse posted 04-26-2018 01:14 PM 546 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BadHorse's profile


1 post in 1191 days

04-26-2018 01:14 PM

Hello all,

Looking to pick some brains on a plan I found for a front door I am gearing up to build. I’m not sure if it’s frowned upon to link to this article, but it is very easy to find. If you search Google for “How to build your own front door” you will find the article on Fine Woodworking’s website. For those things it might affect, this will be a replacement for our front entry door. The door is set back about 5 feet in a narrow recess so it is very well protected from weather and sun with such a long overhang. However I am in Houston, so humidity is a very big concern.

The plans call for haunched tenons which are then pegged. Obviously the author is recommending this method, but I’d like to get some other feedback. Is there another method that anyone recommends? It’s not that I don’t trust him, but rather that this will be my first time with this type of joint so I don’t have any experience to compare it to. Any tips or tricks would be much appreciated!

More importantly, though, I’m looking for a strategy to lay out holes for the pins. I’ve come across all kinds of rules of thumb for joinery, but I’m having trouble finding similar info for these. I guess I’m not sure how to think about this besides inferring the measurements from the pictures in the plans. So long as they are located behind the mortise, I am not seeing any reason besides aesthetics to put them in one place or another. Any advice would be very appreciated!

5 replies so far

View TechTeacher04's profile


468 posts in 2691 days

#1 posted 04-26-2018 01:25 PM

A haunched tenon provides a great deal of strength. The pins are usually drawbored to achieve a stronger tighter joint. You need to drill the holes through the mortised part then insert the tenon and mark your center point 1/16”-3/32” off center to allow the peg to pull the joint tighter. Look at this link

View Aj2's profile


3945 posts in 2958 days

#2 posted 04-26-2018 01:38 PM

Sounds like someone needs to practice some jointery. To build your confidence. :)
If the plans do call for a draw bored joint I would recommend using them. They add a lot of strength plus they are fun to make. Be sure to rive the wood for the pins.

-- Aj

View Rich's profile


7101 posts in 1749 days

#3 posted 04-26-2018 02:42 PM

Pin placement is more a matter of aesthetics assuming they are not too close to the edge of the tenon. I’d make sure there’s at least 1/2” of wood on either side. I’ve never used them however, with long tenons and a good glue like plastic resin glue, the door will hold just fine. I see no need to draw bore them either. Just clamp your stiles tight to the rails and add them after the glue dries.

The main reason for the haunched tenons in this case is to allow for a full groove on the stiles, and that fills them. You could do a stopped groove and regular tenon as well without changing the strength. The look that the haunched tenon gives is more traditional, but in the case of an entry door, only pro basketball players will be able to see it.

Here’s a two-panel door I built for the entrance from the garage to the house:

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Bill_Steele's profile


771 posts in 2891 days

#4 posted 04-26-2018 02:57 PM

If the plans call for haunched tenons that are pinned—then why not go that direction? Its possible that the person(s) who designed the door did so after experimenting with different approaches and found that the one you see is the best. You can always practice the joinery with less expensive wood before doing it on the expensive wood for your door.

I’m not sure what the structural benefits of a haunched tenon is vs. a regular tenon or even a floating tenon. Perhaps a haunched tenon has some benefit in reducing twisting forces. If you are going to use floating panels—maybe the haunched tenon is designed to fill the dado at the top/bottom?

If the pins are intended to be “drawbore”—then you want the hole on the outside to be very slightly (e.g. ~1/64”) offset from the hole through the tenon. The goal of the drawbore pin is that it will create tension on the tenon in the direction toward the bottom of the mortise—to lever the tenon deeper into the mortise.

If the pins are just decorative, then just drill and insert them where you think they will look nice. I think they should be oriented so that they appear to go through the tenon—since I believe they are meant to “lock” the tenon if used as a structural component.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1807 days

#5 posted 04-26-2018 03:01 PM

I agree with Rich. You don’t really need the drawbore pins. Drawboring was typically used in place of glue. I use both glue and pins, but approach the joint a bit differently … I mark the pin locations during a dry fit … offset the holes in the tenons … and use clamps to align the holes during glue-up. See my blog Hepplewhite Stand #8: Completed Legs and Drawbore Pins for photos.

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