Tennons In a Curved Piece of Wood

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Forum topic by bruingt posted 04-24-2008 01:33 AM 6321 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 4227 days

04-24-2008 01:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: joining arts and crafts jig tip


So I am working on an Arts and Crafts style living room set. I’d like the backs of the chairs to be curved at the top but that poses some issues for cutting tennons for the vertical slats. Any ideas or jigs for how to cut those tennons in arch-shaped piece of wood? I’d like to use my router as opposed to hand tools as much as possible.



10 replies so far

View Slacker's profile


178 posts in 4243 days

#1 posted 04-24-2008 03:34 AM

That is a fine challenge. Have you considered using dowels instead of cutting mortises and tenons?

-- Adapt, improvise, overcome

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4632 days

#2 posted 04-24-2008 03:38 AM

Many times the tenons are cut before the curves are shaped. You use thicker stock than a lamination.

With a bent lamination you may have to make a jig to hold the work piece.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

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1784 posts in 4632 days

#3 posted 04-24-2008 03:39 AM

Or loose tenon it.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 4418 days

#4 posted 04-24-2008 06:28 PM

Outside of making a jig, I would concider the loose tenon idea the best. I have read on other forums about guys using “Beadlock” for the exact same thing you are talking about. They say it works real well. I have the kit, but have not tried it.

Also, you may want to dig up some David Marks videos, I think there is one or two where he makes tenons in curved work. I am sorry I cant remember which ones.


View tbone's profile


288 posts in 4227 days

#5 posted 04-24-2008 06:53 PM

You can do it with a tenoning jig on the tablesaw. M & T joints on Arts and Crafts furniture will be the most historically accurate—and satisfying—method.
The library or bookstore would be a good source. Try to find a book called ‘Building Arts & Crafts Furniture’ by Paul Kemner/Peggy Zdila. check the photo on page 70

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View bruingt's profile


3 posts in 4227 days

#6 posted 04-24-2008 06:55 PM

Thanks for your help. I meant to say mortises I guess but it sounds like a loose mortise and tenon is the way to go.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4310 days

#7 posted 04-24-2008 07:36 PM

I agree, I’d say either go with a loose tenon or a dowel. two dowels at least though as one provides no strength to stop it from twisting.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4341 days

#8 posted 04-24-2008 10:41 PM

loose tenons, yes if you have already bent. I cut mine pre-bend.

-- making sawdust....

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 4250 days

#9 posted 04-25-2008 11:42 AM

I did the mortises with a router on the blank before bandsawing the curves. After drawing the arc on the blank and the mortise locations on one, what I did to locate the opposing mortises was to use dowel centers to transfer the starting/stopping points from the top rail to the bottom one. After drilling those, I inserted some dowel stubs and put a straightedge against them and knifed the sidewall lines to connect the 2 holes. Then it was a matter of using some tapered wedges for the router edge guide to line up the router bit with the knifed lines.

-- Use the fence Luke

View Toby's profile


1 post in 4231 days

#10 posted 04-27-2008 05:12 AM

Hi, Greg,

Here is a link to plans for an arts and crafts rocking chair. The back slats were laminated oak, and the male form is used to hold the pieces while making biscuit slots. There are a few pics to look at:

I am in the process of building one of these chairs (my first ever woodworking project!). If anyone here on the forums has actually built one of these, I’d sure appreciate some tips!.

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