Sewing Table #4: Mortise and Tenons for my Birthday

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Blog entry by Blake posted 06-12-2008 12:50 PM 3130 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Using the Mortising Machine (for the first time) Part 4 of Sewing Table series Part 5: Tapers and Curves »

Time for the Mortise and tenons.

First of all, thanks to all who gave me advice about the mortising machine from the last blog. I did hone and tune the chisel and mortise machine and it did cut considerably better. I also turned the chisel so that the open side faces the previously bored section and didn’t have any trouble with chips getting stuck (thanks Betsy!)

So I made the layout lines on my legs:

And cut the mortises. Notice the stop block for repeatability:

I was wondering how I would go about cutting the tenons. I decided to just do it the “easy way” and cut them on my radial arm saw (I love that thing.)

It takes a little while to hog out the waste with a thin kerf blade but there is almost no set-up time. Call me lazy but it works for me. It would have taken me just as long to set up a jig for my router or whatever other method.

A roughed tenon:

I made marks 1/2” from each edge of the tenons:

And I cut the notch out on the bandsaw (what is the correct terminology for this part of the tenon?):

I spent quite a bit of time chiseling the tenons…

...and cleaning out the mortises:

I also used my “Record” low angle shoulder plane to fit, smooth, and square up the tenons:

The finished tenons (aaahhhhh, at last.)

Finally, at 2:00 AM in the morning (on my Birthday!) I dry-fit the joinery. I didn’t start until after work last night.

And it looks exactly like it did at the end of the last section :( But I know that a big part of the work is done :)

I will disassemble it and do all the shaping (leg tapers and arches) before gluing it. But I had to see how it all fit together. Geez, that wood is nice, isn’t it? I never took Birch seriously before. I always used it for making jigs because it is hard and relatively cheap.

This phase took about 5 hours. Total Project Time So Far: 10 hours

I have the day off tomorrow. Check back later… I expect to make quite a bit more progress (after I sleep in).

-- Happy woodworking!

16 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3667 days

#1 posted 06-12-2008 01:13 PM

very nice work!

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3933 days

#2 posted 06-12-2008 01:22 PM

Lookin’ good. I don’t know how many times I’ve used my mortising machine and I never thought of a stop block. Doh! Well done and Happy Birthday.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#3 posted 06-12-2008 01:25 PM


This is coming along nicely. Out of curiosity why didn’t you put a dado set in your RAS? It would have made hogging out waste much faster. But you did well with just the thin kerf blade and plane. At this rate you may just make it by the 21st.

By the way happy birthday to you as well. After 16, 18 and 21 they don’t mean as much but it still is your special day. :)

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3951 days

#4 posted 06-12-2008 01:26 PM

Happy b’day Blake! That is looking really nice. Great job picking the wood…the curls are really going to pop when you put a finish on it.


View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3761 days

#5 posted 06-12-2008 01:28 PM

Great tutorial. The maple has some really nice grain to it. I look forward to seeing more.

Happy Birthday.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4394 days

#6 posted 06-12-2008 02:10 PM

Blake great Job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3722 days

#7 posted 06-12-2008 02:39 PM

Great post again. Thanks for taking the time.

View sidestepmcgee's profile


158 posts in 3719 days

#8 posted 06-12-2008 04:52 PM

love the birch , that stuff is on fire. great job on the table, i was wondering what brand mortising machine do you have.enjoy your birthday

-- eric post, tallahassee FL

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3982 days

#9 posted 06-12-2008 07:17 PM

Pretty cool blog, Blake.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3868 days

#10 posted 06-12-2008 08:03 PM

Scott Bryan: My good ol’ DeWalt R.A.S. is not really that powerful and has a hard time cutting with anything wider than a thin kerf blade. A dado would be really slow going and would probably stall the saw.

Sidestepmcgee: A little Delta benchtop that I got used.

-- Happy woodworking!

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3762 days

#11 posted 06-12-2008 09:18 PM

happy B-day blake. man that is some beautiful flame birch. i just love that stuff. i worked with it once and it is a really beautiful wood but it had no where near that figure. it just amazes me every time that i see it. thanks for the post!

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3990 days

#12 posted 06-12-2008 10:14 PM

At the 10hr mark, you’ve put a lot of good work in the project already…

Did you stay up late on your birthday or until your birthday? Was your birthday yesterday or today? Mine was yesterday ;)

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3890 days

#13 posted 06-13-2008 02:00 AM

Happy birthday Blake. The table is really looking good. Birch may not be the most romantic wood out there – but it sure is pretty.

I have to admit I was surprised that I was the one that noticed the chisel being situated wrong—- but sure made me feel good that I contributed to your table!

Can’t wait to see you progress along with this project.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4087 days

#14 posted 06-13-2008 06:10 AM

The table is coming along nicely Blake. I think the part of the tenon you asked about is the edge. The long part is the face. Here is a link to the anatomy of the joint:

That’s a pretty nice Record. Where did you come across that puppy?

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3868 days

#15 posted 06-13-2008 08:56 AM

Dorje: I was up late the morning after. It seems that we have the same birthday… the 11th. Happy birthday! I guess that means we are the same age.

Jeff: It was a gift from my father-in-law. It was his at one point. It is actually my favorite and most used hand tool. Thanks for the info.

-- Happy woodworking!

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