End Table project #2: Mortise and tenon time

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Blog entry by bandit571 posted 07-24-2015 03:41 AM 834 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: End Table Project: Start up Part 2 of End Table project series Part 3: Frame and panel work »

Well, at least enough to put ONE frame together. Had the five parts for the one side laid out. “Plan” was to mill a few tenons, then chop a few mortises to match. Got a few tenons done, before the insurance guys showed up. Spent maybe an hour talking things over with them, and the landlord.

Anyway, about them tenons..

Needed a few tools. laid out 1” wide tenons. Simple to do, as the blade on the square is 1” wide. Marked all the way around the ends. Handsaw to cut around 1/4” deep, or so. The rails do have at least one groove milled into them, so depth of cut matched that. Once one side was cut up. flipped the board over..

And cut the over side. I make one saw cut. Then a wide chisel to pop off the waste.. then pare the part flat

Top and bottomrails need a little extra done. Called a Haunch Tenon. The step there is to fill the groove in the stiles.

The center rail didn’t need that fancy stuff. Raised panels will slide into the grooves. Got three rails done, and stacked the boards up for a bit

As I needed to clear off the benchtop. have a jig of sorts, to work on chopping a mortise

I screw the jig to the benchtop, right over a leg. A “C” clamp to hold the part in place.
I used the tenons to mark out where they will need a mortise to be. Just a couple lines across is all I need. Got out the chisels and a mallet, and chopped down…down…..down ( are we there yet?) until the combo square sits nicely. have it set at 1”. When the mortise is deep enough the blade on the square doesn’t touch the bottom….I can move things around and do the next one.

After all three are chopped out, I can do a fit up of sorts. They will need a bit of fine tuning….

Once they sat square, I could lay the other stile in place, and mark where the mortises needed to go. Then a lot more chopping to do. Finally clamped the whole mess together, using the jig to steady things

Close, but will take a bit more fitting up. Once that is done…I get to do the other side the same way. Then, maybe….I can do the back of the end table. Front will be just a door.

I also got some layout on the rear frame and panel. needed to know how wide it will be, based on the width of the top, how much overhang I will use, and how the stiles will add up. leaves about 10-1/2” or so for the three rails. Counting their 1” tenons. Hey, I even wrote a couple things down ON paper today…..

Once I get the frames all nice and “happy, happy” I can raise a few panels. maybe this time next week….we might try some assembly! Til then, stay tuned…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

3 comments so far

View Luddite's profile


170 posts in 662 days

#1 posted 07-24-2015 01:07 PM

From your photos I see why you refer to the shop as a dungeon.
I admire your doing mortise and tenon by hand. I did that for a long time until I got a powermatic mortiser and a tenon jig for the table saw.

Enjoying your blog.

thanks Terry

-- T Loftus -- Just on the edge of common sense

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2758 days

#2 posted 07-24-2015 06:48 PM

It looks like you got a great result, but it is better to do the mortises first and then the tenons just very slightly oversize because it is much easier to adjust the tenons for a tight fit than the other way around.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View bandit571's profile


14094 posts in 2107 days

#3 posted 07-24-2015 11:39 PM

Somedays, I can just chop and saw and not even think about the time. Kind of relaxing..

Tried to do the mortises first a while back…..kept cutting the tenons too skinny. I can go back a shave a few atoms off the tenons for a better fit. Trying to leave just barely enough room for the glue. Used to be, a measure of how a tenon fits into a mortise was to wrap a dollar bill around the tenon. Should be just a slip-fit.

I might have a tenon too long in there…easy fix.

have several mortise chisels in the shop….been giving each a turn at this job.

To make the tenons? i saw down with the Disston No.5 backsaw. Then a wide chisel comes in from the end, and “pops” the waste off, or rather..up. Some have been seen flying by. Then I pare until flat. I have a mortise nearby, in this case a grooved stile, to check for fit.

Shop is a “Hybrid Shop”...about 65% handtool, to 35% power tools.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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