Cleaning a tenon up

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Blog entry by A Slice of Wood Workshop posted 01-31-2012 04:51 AM 2477 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well after going almost 2 months without doing a video and almost 2 weeks not being in the shop, I figured I would get some work done and while in the process shoot a short video. Well sadly my shop light burnt out and I have no bulbs for it, but I did get the video filmed before the light went out. Enjoy it and as always, all comments (good, bad, or terrible), tips, and tricks are welcome. Thanks!

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10 comments so far

View deeman's profile


379 posts in 3137 days

#1 posted 01-31-2012 05:47 AM

Great video I basically use the same technique. I got a great deal on a Forrest dado king for only $100. It works wonderfully but I still have to clean up tenons. Woodcraft Magazine has a plan for a rabbet plane I hope to make this spring. I thinik the rabbet plane will make this job a lot easier.

-- Dennis Trenton Ohio And life is worth the living just because He lives!

View WoodJediNTraining's profile


409 posts in 2750 days

#2 posted 01-31-2012 05:51 AM

Nicely Done Tim!!!

-- Newbie, aka Wood_Jedi,

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3634 days

#3 posted 01-31-2012 05:59 AM

thanks for the video.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

1073 posts in 3230 days

#4 posted 01-31-2012 06:16 PM

@garage woodworks-Very nice. I will havae to make one. Can you make them any length?

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View brtech's profile


1034 posts in 2979 days

#5 posted 01-31-2012 07:46 PM

I don’t buy your argument for why a “smooth” tenon is better.

You want the tenon to match the mortise, with enough of a gap to allow sufficient glue surface. You don’t mention that your smoothing technique makes the tenon thinner than it was. You either have to cut the tenon thicker with your dado blade, or size your mortise to your tenon in order to get the right fit. I think it should slide in with only a small amount of force. Just making it smoother without matching the tenon to the mortise will make a weaker joint. If you did overcut your tenon initially, you need to thin it to the right size, not (just) make it smooth.

If the depth of a groove is big enough, you are using glue to bridge a gap, which would probably make the joint less strong. However, I bet with your rough tenon, you would have a hard time showing the joint strength of the rough tenon is much different than a smooth one assuming the mortises were sized to match. While modern glues really do bond stronger than the wood fibers themselves, a rougher surface provides a better joint in terms of holding strength than a glass smooth surface because the rougher surface provides more nooks and crannies for the glue to move into and provide surface to grab.

I am thinking you need a better dado set, however.

View WoodJediNTraining's profile


409 posts in 2750 days

#6 posted 01-31-2012 09:21 PM

Tenon thickness = Mortise width Make the tenon width to exact fit. If it’s too thin, it will likely float and position the rail in the wrong place. You should be able to “push fit” the parts together. A “clamp fit” with squeaky resistance is too tight. Applying glue will swell an easy-fit joint much tighter. A too-tight joint might split when glue is added.

brtech – one of the main reasons to clean up your mortis and tennon is to “square things up” so you have a nice fitting joint. If you get a rough cut from the saw or whatever method used to make the tennon or mortise. you want to smooth it out, square it . you you should cut your tennon, square it up with a plane or chisel. and cut the mortis to match. you want a nice push fit ..

In the video Tim is showing you a method of how he cleans his tennons. He explains why he cleans them, due to his dado blade. and shows you a method he uses…

-- Newbie, aka Wood_Jedi,

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

1073 posts in 3230 days

#7 posted 02-01-2012 03:06 AM

@brtech thanks for the comment. I believe that WoodJedi and Garage Woodworks summed up what I would have said. Thanks for watching though.

@Woodjedi & GarageWoodworks- Thanks guys for the additional info and comments. And thanks for watching the video as well. You both have some great woodworking skills and knowledge.

-- Follow me on YouTube-

View WoodJediNTraining's profile


409 posts in 2750 days

#8 posted 02-01-2012 04:38 AM

Tim you got skills bro, keep doing what you do!! I look forward to the next video…

-- Newbie, aka Wood_Jedi,

View Chuck41's profile


7 posts in 2432 days

#9 posted 02-01-2012 05:41 AM

I cut my mortises first and then I cut my tenons a bit proud and trim as necessary. As to smoothness, I am at a loss to figure out why that is important. They either fit or they don’t fit…

View FlairWoodworks's profile


71 posts in 2596 days

#10 posted 02-01-2012 10:58 AM

With modern wood glues, they do benefit from some coarseness. For example, when I don’t glue together hand-plane edges without roughing them up a little with fine sandpaper. This is really about absorption, rather than “tooth”. By the way, I don’t think you can get surface “too smooth” when working cross-grain, at least not without a skew cut.

However, some other glues such as epoxy do benefit from having that roughness for maximum strength.

-- Chris Wong -- --

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