The Art of Joinery

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Project by dryhter posted 01-14-2011 10:47 PM 4695 views 8 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

LumberJocks Woodworking

The Art of Joinery

I decided to build a small Game Table for my Sister in law as a Christmas present two years ago. The table was a relatively simple project using traditional joinery methods.

I had built several tables similar to this before and on this one I wanted to style it with a light delicate feel.

The mortise and tenon joint at the top of the leg, where the apron joins to the leg I felt was a weak point and I have seen this joint fail.

The problem boils down to the fact that there just does not seem to be enough space to create a substantial joint, especially since I was trying to keep the piece delicate looking, at best I had a small stub of a tenon. Somewhere I had seen an example where the craftsman had mitered the tenon within the mortise to increase the size of the stub.

That got me to thinking. I liked the idea of the mitering the stub to increase the size, but I did not feel that it really added any strength to the joint. This thought process led me to thinking about developing a joint within a joint. I thought about what needed to be done to improve the strength / stability of the joint. Most of the failures that I had seen were usually the mortise cracking from stresses from the leg acting as a lever on the haunch of the joint the fulcrum.

I visualized the box joint within the mortise as a way to increase the size of the tenon and give it maximum surface area to help with stresses applied to the joint. And by deepening the mortise so that it extended past the mortise that it was perpendicular to and increasing the tenon to maxim depth the joint was actually locked in at this point.

I have named this joint the Superior mortise and tenon joint and have used it several times since coming up with the idea. I no longer glue this joint, but simply use a drawbore peg, making the joint knockdown adaptable. This joint would also work very well in heavy duty applications such as a wood working bench where the repetitive actions of working wood stress the joinery of the associated joints plus the ability to disassemble the bench for moving, storage or repair.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

12 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


12981 posts in 1727 days

#1 posted 01-14-2011 10:50 PM

Bulletproof tenons! Can’t say I’ve ever seen it done. Almost a shame to hide it in a mortise. Next up, double dovetailed hidden mortises. Fellow joinery freak, Al.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 2638 days

#2 posted 01-14-2011 10:54 PM

Hey Al,

Like my partener use to say ” If you can’t make a project out of Why even start!”

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

View IkeandBerry's profile


45 posts in 2298 days

#3 posted 01-14-2011 11:31 PM

I just finished a bench that uses dovetailed hidden mortises. I unfortunately did not get any pictures of the joints. I worked out really well.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

View toxicoval56's profile


158 posts in 2537 days

#4 posted 01-15-2011 12:24 AM

This is a great idea. Instant favorite. I will consider this in all of my upcoming projects. It would make a piece last forever.

Thanks for sharing.

-- The view only changes for the leading dog.

View Sodabowski's profile


2251 posts in 1867 days

#5 posted 01-15-2011 12:52 AM

I’ve tried that once, but with far less success than you did (it was a test run for me). I’ve seen that kind of joinery a couple of times, but can’t remember exactly where.

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2343 days

#6 posted 01-15-2011 01:49 AM

A method I have used for a long time to join legs and aprons is a dovetailed joint. Holds great…never had a problem with one coming loose in over 40+ years.

View happy_budah's profile


132 posts in 2833 days

#7 posted 01-15-2011 02:36 AM

I’m a big fan of the sliming dove tails, those interlocking tenons look very promising, have you tried the same joint with dove tails?

-- the journy of a thousand miles begins with a single step " Lou-Tzu"

View clarkey's profile


452 posts in 2090 days

#8 posted 01-16-2011 07:14 PM

Everything about this piece is awesome!!! Thanks for sharing .

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 2638 days

#9 posted 01-16-2011 07:45 PM

Thank you for all the comments. Here is a video of the making of the joint


-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

View dubsaloon's profile


621 posts in 1828 days

#10 posted 06-13-2011 01:58 PM

How about a tenon with exposed dovetails in the corners. Sorta like a cutaway. Just thunkin.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View TheHarr's profile


104 posts in 2573 days

#11 posted 07-21-2012 10:19 PM

I have a couple of comprehensive books on wood joints. You managed to invent one that’s not my books. You have truely invented a new joint. Shouldn’t you get some kind of prize?

-- The wood is good.

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 2638 days

#12 posted 07-23-2012 12:00 PM

Thanks Harry.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

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