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Bridge City Tools: TenonMaker TM-1 #1: My New TenonMaker TM-1

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 10-22-2016 04:57 AM 2482 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Bridge City Tools: TenonMaker TM-1 series Part 2: Kerfmaker Shop Made JIG »

I ordered a Bridge City Tools TenonMaker TM-1. It arrived yesterday. It is a small device. I am still trying to get experience with it.

I was also interested in ordering their KM-1 Kerfmaker tool, but it was not in stock, or not a stock item. I believe customers must indicate that they would order this tool if Bridge City Tool made another production run. However, I am not sure if they are going to make the Kerfmaker again. Since I am left wonder on this subject, I am going to attempt making a tool that performs the same function, but dedicated to my Freud RIP blade used on my Saw Stop table saw. My shop-made tool will be used to cut DADOes or grooves with my rip blade on my table saw. As I think about this more I may make other jigs for a standard combination set of DADO blades from my Diablo DADO set.

On the TM-1 Tenonmaker I wonder what direction the thumb wheel is suppose to be turned in order to tighten the slides. Of course, the direction of turn is based upon which side of the tool is up, right? Is the top of the tool the silver colored part? Would I be tightening the wheels by twisting the thumb wheel clock-wise when the orange part is facing away from me? Fome some reason directions like this are always a problem for me. I need or require definitions, directions of use.

My first impression was that this tool has three parts and they each fit loosely together. I was surprised that a sliding dovetail type fit was not used on this tool. It seems obvious to me that all the parts have to be held tightly together in order to have it measure (1) the mortise widths preciously, and (2) the saw blade’s kerf precisely in order to produce or cut the tenon’s width precisely.

I have watched Half-inch Shy's video on the Kerfmaker KM-1. In Paul’s demonstration he made an MDF fence jig to set his RIP fence on his Saw Stop in order to cut a DADO or a groove when using the Bridge City Tools’ Kerfmaker KM-1.

I used his example to make my own RIP fence jig so I can use my new TenonMaker on my Saw Stop. With my jig I have incorporated the tool’s instruction on how to determine and set the saw blade kerf with the tool. What the instructions say to do take a block of wood and cut a corner from it. Then glue that corner into the place that it was cut from. The blade’s kerf width will be the indented distance from the original block to the piece that you have glued back into its empty location. On my fence setting jig there are two locations where the kerf’s width is defined. You can see these in the image below where I have set the orange part to the blade’s kerf width. I have placed a yellow arrow pointing to these indented locations.

I made my first jig out of 3/4” MDF. When I tried using the Tenonmaker I quickly determined that the 3/4” MDF was too thick to use with the tool. I went back to my sheetvstorage to pull out a scrap piece of 1/2” MDF. From that I cut out the jig on my table saw. Since I have two extra Magswitch MagJig 95 devices, I decided to use both in my fence jig. I figured that the use of two would hold my fence jig firmly. It would not move. The cutout of my jig is shown in the image below.

In my prior use of these switchable magnetics I drilled the specified metric holes with the correct size Forstner bits. In this case, however, I precisely cut slots so the MagJig 95 fits firmly into its slot.

Once you have set the saw blade’s kerf thickness with the orange part setting, you can then measure the mortise’s width that you need to cut a tenon to fit. The Tenonmaker is set into the mortise and the silver part of the tool’s thumb wheel is turned to hold that setting, or distance.

This is a close up view of Tenonmakers’ first position for cutting the tenon’s first shoulder cut.

With the Tenonmaker set to the mortise’s width, I then can set the TM-1 Tenonmaker into my RIP fence jig on the right-side of my table’s Multi-use RIP fence jig.

Here is a close up view of the TM-1 Tenonmaker placed in my RIP fence jig. The arrow points to the orange part of the Tenonmaker being inside the MDF fence jig. This will be the position of the Tenonmaker for the first shoulder cut made for the tenon.

For the second shoulder tenon cut the Tenonmaker’s orange part will be riding on top of the MDF fence jig; thus my RIP fence will be moved to the right of the saw blade.

I made a test cut to fit a through tenon in my Trestle Table leg. Since I had already set the Tenonmaker to my Freud RIP blade’s kerf, I went to the leg and measured the width of the mortise for the through tenon.

My test piece for the through tenon was just a short block of Douglas Fir. However, it worked for test cutting the width of the tenon to fit the mortise in my trestle table’s leg. The image below shows or demonstrates that the through tenon fits.

The one shortcoming I discovered about my new TM-1 Tenonmaker from Bridge City Tools is that the maximum mortise or tenon width is slightly less than 2 inches. Thus, with my through tenon on my Trestle Table being 3/4 inches wide by 2 inches long, I could not use the Tenonmaker for the 2 inch dimension for the through tenon. This limitation needs to be kept in mind for anyone considering purchasing this tool.

-- --- Happy Howie



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