"Feather Tenon," anyone?

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Forum topic by Patrick Jaromin posted 08-20-2008 02:14 PM 3348 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Patrick Jaromin

406 posts in 4311 days

08-20-2008 02:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mortise and tenon feather tenon loose tenon

The other day I was surfing Wikipedia and came across this article on Mortise and tenon joinery.

I was surprised that there was no mention of “mortise and loose tenon.” In that article, the joint was labeled as a “feather tenon.” I’d never heard it called that. Being curious, I did a google search that resulted in only 50 results, 14 of which were displayed. Nearly all of them were exact copies of the original wikipedia article. A similar search for “loose tenon” results in thousands of hits.

My thought is that either:

a) “Feather tenon” is technically correct, copied from some textbook somewhere, but no longer (or rarely, or never) used.

b) “Feather tenon” is used outside the US or the “English-speaking world” and the English definition simply dominates the internet.

c) The definition is incorrect or written perhaps by someone who either misunderstood or is in a relatively isolated region of the world where “feather tenon” is the more common name.

(update) or d) I’m living in a cave?!?

Since I know there are members from a wide range of countries, continents and woodworking traditions in this community (did you know that the site owner isn’t American! – sorry, Martin, I couldn’t help myself! ;) ), surely if it’s in common use, someone here will know about it!

Can anyone set me straight?

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

5 replies so far

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 08-20-2008 07:09 PM

i have heard it called a loose or floating tenon but never a feather tenon.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 4469 days

#2 posted 08-20-2008 08:15 PM

I’ve never heard the term before either. But, you know, the description “feather tenon” got me to thinking. What if the loose tenon was cut over size by a little bit and the sides were “feathered” just like a featherboard for keeping your work tight against the fence? Then you would have a tenon that is “one way” because it’s slightly larger than the mortise and would also have a much larger glue surface that prevents both hydrostatic glue pressure and starving the joint during glue up. Put all this together and I can imagine a better mortise and tenon joint using these “feather tenons”. Cool.

-- Jim

View Grumpy's profile


25616 posts in 4329 days

#3 posted 08-20-2008 11:10 PM

Never heard the term Patrick.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 4181 days

#4 posted 08-20-2008 11:52 PM

That looks interesting!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4246 days

#5 posted 08-21-2008 12:12 AM

never heard of it either! its always been a loose tenon to me.

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