Japanese Tool Box #1: Cutting Sides & Square Tenons

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Blog entry by ruddhess posted 04-05-2015 01:23 PM 1557 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Japanese Tool Box series Part 2: Finishing Cutting Mortises »

I actually broke down and sharpened the blade on one of my crappy (not the crappiest, next one up) little block planes. Made some shavings. Not exactly the right tool for the job and the blade wasn’t dull anymore, just not as sharp as it needed to be. Resorted to a bit of hand sanding with a block and some 120 grit. Inching my way toward ‘real’ woodworking!

I am going to do some square mortise/tenon joints for the ends of the box. This time, I am doing it “right”, with a chisel to remove the “waste” in between the 3/4” square tenons.

I wasn’t ready when the first one to broke away. A bit more tearout than I would like, but it won’t be seen and it doesn’t affect the joint strength significantly.

This is the first one – square pins with waste chiseled out.

All cleaned up with chisel and fine rasp. I am pleased with the result. If I do as well on the mortises, then these joints will look acceptable.

Here’s the other end of the first short side that has the square tenons. The tearout is in the middle and that’s what we want.

One corner of one tenon (bottom left) did chip off though. I think this is where there was a knot.

And the first set of mortises on one of the long sides. Mortises (to me anyway) are way harder to pull off than tenons. [It would probably help if I could make the tenons even more precisely square. Though I did fairly well on the first short board using my back saw. I did the other short side with my Japanese style saw. It was really a joy to use, but I’m not quite as familiar with it yet, so I sawed just a wee bit crooked here and there. Also I have to get used to such a small kerf compared to my back saw. I think my tenons were a tad over 3/4” wide because of smaller kerf.]

Experimenting with forstner bit hollowing out mortises. Not sure if I like it as well as just chiseling.

I think these are the ones I marked the center and then drilled the holes first, then squared the “corners”. On the first ones I just cut out shallow squares on the inside of the box (the side I “traced” the tenons on) and then used the 3/4” forstner bit to hollow out to the other side (what will be the outside of the toolbox). Otherwise I didn’t know how to accurately transcribe my crooked lines (traced from the outline of the crooked tenons) through the board to the opposite side – that way I know where to chisel (meeting somewhere near the middle of the board). Maybe it would be better to cut mortises first and then trace the position of the tenons from the already cut mortises? I’ll have to try that sometime. I’m still “experimenting” since I haven’t done this too much yet. Ideally everything would be perfectly square and perfectly aligned and cut from measured lines (I don’t have one of those fancy mortise/tenon marking things).

There seems to be a pretty big gap on the inside of the far left mortise & tenon. Otherwise the fit is snug and will work for what I am making.

This is how I start the cutting of the mortises. This is the other long side of the box. I go slower and work more carefully if I just use a chisel and don’t “hog out” the mortise with the forstner bit. It’s really easy to tearout grain on this old white pine.

-- Rodney, Arkansas

2 comments so far

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1291 days

#1 posted 04-05-2015 10:12 PM

Looking good!

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View ruddhess's profile


117 posts in 630 days

#2 posted 04-06-2015 02:33 AM

Thanks siavosh!

-- Rodney, Arkansas

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