LumberJocks

Mortise and Tenon

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by Oldschoolguy posted 11-11-2018 02:59 PM 803 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Oldschoolguy's profile

Oldschoolguy

63 posts in 253 days


11-11-2018 02:59 PM

Hi y’all, I’m just starting out and extremely interested in woodworking. With that said, due to a modest pension I try to keep purchases to a minimum, but don’t want to sacrifice quality. On another note, I have a severe learning disability in that I have problems thinking outside the box and have trouble following some written/printed directions. At some point I want to try some mortise and tenon joinery, but don’t know which way to go. Would a cheap M&T system be useful, or would a beadlock system be as strong as M&T. Has anyone heard of an M&T jig made by Trend or used one? Amazon has a M&T jig by Trend for 375, while Leigh is over a grand. Opinions, thoughts, ideas will be greatly appreciated. Thanks soooo much to everyone.


11 replies so far

View jmos's profile

jmos

916 posts in 2786 days


#1 posted 11-11-2018 03:18 PM

I would start with hand tools. For the tenons a marking gauge and a fairly fine tooth back saw will get you there. You don’t have to buy a really expensive saw. You may want one later, but you can start much more modestly.

For the mortise, bench chisels will work fine. Mortising chisels are nice. You can remove the bulk of the waste with a router, or with a drill (hand works, drill press is better, a bit and bit and brace works too.)

There are tons of videos on YouTube showing different methods.

The jigs can be great if you are doing a lot of mortises. I’m not convinced they are a tremendous time saver for a just a few. If you want to go the machine assisted route (more expensive) another option besides a jig is a hollow chisel mortising machine. I’d just avoid the attachments for a drill press, they don’t work terribly well.

-- John

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2761 posts in 3299 days


#2 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.

Finewoodworking.com 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.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5564 posts in 3660 days


#3 posted 11-11-2018 05:39 PM

The question always comes up as to whether you do the mortise first or the tenon first. My thought is to make the mortise first as it becomes much easier to “tailor” fit the tenon than the other way around.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5313 posts in 2726 days


#4 posted 11-11-2018 06:00 PM



The question always comes up as to whether you do the mortise first or the tenon first. My thought is to make the mortise first as it becomes much easier to “tailor” fit the tenon than the other way around.

- MrRon


IMHO he’’s exactly right.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5313 posts in 2726 days


#5 posted 11-11-2018 06:01 PM

Do you have any tools at all yet?

Even hand tools can get expensive. Wood working in my opinion is not exactly cheap hobby to get into.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5564 posts in 3660 days


#6 posted 11-11-2018 07:00 PM



Do you have any tools at all yet?

Even hand tools can get expensive. Wood working in my opinion is not exactly cheap hobby to get into.

- AlaskaGuy


Nothing these days really is. I am a model railroader and have seen trains go up in price from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. I can’t afford those prices, so I have to do it the old (hard) way. That means scratch building everything and hand laying track. In a way, I prefer it that way, as it gives me satisfaction that I have done it myself without depending on someone else to do the hard work for me.

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

579 posts in 320 days


#7 posted 11-11-2018 07:46 PM

As a “newbie” it may be too early to be focused on production equipment. You could spend a lot of time becoming familiar with various forms of mortise/tenon joints using simple (hand) tools. In earlier times, apprentices would practice these skills for months or years before they were qualified as journeymen. The buyers of such woodwork today are perhaps more demanding than earlier time. The joints have to be beautiful!

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View Eric's profile

Eric

79 posts in 290 days


#8 posted 11-11-2018 08:48 PM

I have to agree here. Learn how to make the M&T using hand tools. That will ensure that you have a very good understanding of the joint. And if you only have a few to do it is more cost effective.

Alsi, yes cut the mortise first. You do get a better fit

Have fun

-- Eric, Upstate South Carolina

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

1595 posts in 1824 days


#9 posted 11-11-2018 11:52 PM

It has been said but I’ll echo – learn with what you have or minimal investment. I learned (am still learning!) to cut mortises on the drill press then clean up with bench chisels. I like to cut tenon shoulders on the table saw with a miter gauge (or a sled!) and cut cheeks on the band saw. I’d you don’t have a band saw I’d suggest looking for either a band saw OR a decent hand saw, either of those over a table saw jig. Just my opinion.
Good luck and don’t forget to have fun and enjoy it!!

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

579 posts in 320 days


#10 posted 11-12-2018 12:38 AM

When I attended Junior High wood shop, the machines included a tenoning machine and a mortising machine. It also had a double arbor table saw, a 12 inch jointer, and a 36 inch planer. The tenoning machine had circular saw blades that cut the shoulders on both sides and planer blades removed the sides of the tenon, all in one pass! The mortising machine was dedicated to mortising with bits of several sizes. These machines had to have come from a production wood shop somewhere. But why?

We got all the machines working and produced some furniture parts well beyond what schools produce now.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View Robert's profile

Robert

3434 posts in 1897 days


#11 posted 11-12-2018 03:16 PM

Starting out I would not buy a “mortising system” if by this you are referring to a horizontal or vertical mortiser. In general avoid buying dedicated machines is a good idea until you really get your feet wet.

As mentioned there are many ways to do them I suggest looking at the tools you already have, for example, if you have a router, then do them with a router until you get experienced with that, then you can switch to another technique and try that.

If you have a table saw, you can do very accurate tenons with a dado blade.

That said, some type of shoulder or rabbet block plane are indispensable tools for fine tuning the fit.

If you decide to use hand tools, buy a good quality saw and mortising chisel. The worst thing you can do at this point is buy cheap, poor quality hand tools.

Good luck!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com