Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project #8: Mortises and tenons - Making progress!!

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Blog entry by sras posted 09-14-2010 06:46 AM 6117 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: While visions of perfection dance in my head Part 8 of Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project series Part 9: Seat backs »

Summer has flown by. I found a little time here and there to work on the stools. It never seemed like much, but when I look at the result I can see significant progress. I’ll show how I spent my summer (when I was in the shop).

Preliminary Leg Shaping

Several of the leg pieces shifted shape during the rough cut process. The final shape of the back legs requires some material removal. I decided to shape the side that removed material from the center of the leg. If the wood shifted I could adjust the straight side. By leaving one side straight I still have a reference edge for locating the mortises.

Legs shaped on one side

Sure enough after a few days, about a third of the legs shifted somewhat. I set up a straight edge and ran the router along it to get a true edge back. The picture is not very good – you are supposed to see the offset in the mahogany.

New straight edge

I then was able to use the shape template and route the final shape on the legs.

Mortise Front Legs

I then waded into a seemingly endless stream of mortises and tenons. First up – the legs. I measured and drew out the location of each of the mortises. I finally got to put to use the mortiser I bought just for this project.


I followed up by cleaning up the mortise with a mortising chisel. Most of the work was cleaning out the bottom of the mortises.

Clean up Mortises

After several days, I had a set of mortised front legs.

Mortised Legs

Tenon Rails – Round 1

I then focused on tenons for the rails to fit the new mortises. Six rail parts added up to 8 tenons (on each of 6 stools). Once again I need to keep close track of the parts to preserve all my effort to match the grain and colors. I mentioned before that I use a dot to indicate the top right front corner of each piece.

Inventory Control

48 tenons later, I have the start of something that looks like it might become a stool for the kitchen.

Initial Assembly

Mortise Back Legs

Next up is all the mortises on the back legs.

Mortised Back Legs

More Rail Tenons

The angled tenons allowed me to create some interesting set ups for my tenoning jig. This one is set up so I can cut both sides.

Tenon Jig Set Up

Here is another set up.

Another Set Up

After another set of tenons, I have six stools with four legs.

Another fit up

Mortise and Tenon Accent Posts

Next up is the 3 posts on each side. Mortises were cut and indexed with spacing blocks.

Indexing Mortise Spacing

Here is a fit up with the accent posts installed. The bottom rails are all in place as well. Notice how the pile of parts on the bench is getting smaller?

Accent Posts Installed

Cutting Tenons on Curved Rails

I used the fixture for gluing the curved parts to hold the curved rails for cutting tenons. Some stop blocks and a cross cut sled worked great!

Curved Rail tenon set up

I would use shims to sneak up on the final tenon width.

Shim for final width

Final Fit Up

After another assembly of the pieces you are caught up. The pile of parts on the bench is down to the seat back slats. They are up next!

Latest fit up

Current time log:

Cutting rough stock: 2 hrs

> Cutting to width and thickness: 4 hrs 20 min
> Cut to final length: 3 hrs 30 min
> Shaping: 5 hrs 50 min
> Mortises: 10 hrs 35 min

Seat Back and Back Rest
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 3 hrs 35 min
> Prepping laminations: 8 hrs 40 min
> Glue up Laminations: 3 hr 50 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 2 hr 25 min
> Tenon: 5 hr 10 min

Back Slats
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 1 hr 55 min
> Prepping laminations: 3 hrs
> Glue up Laminations: 6 hrs 5 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 10 min

Lower rail parts
> Cut to width and thickness: 10 hrs
> Cut to length: 1 hr 30 min
> Mortise: 3 hr 50 min
> Tenon: 23 hrs 30 min

Total so far: 99 hrs 55 min (16+ hrs per stool)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

8 comments so far

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3459 days

#1 posted 09-14-2010 12:34 PM

Glad to see you are back on this project.
Looks like it is coming along nicely.
Nearly 100 hours for a one of a kind set of chairs… not too shabby!!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3156 days

#2 posted 09-14-2010 04:24 PM

Thanks Ellen!
Slow and steady – well more slow than steady ;)
But I am making progress. Usually I have more time in the fall & winter to get in the shop. This is still going to take a while.
You would think I could have worked 5 more minutes and hit the 100 hour mark! I don’t know if I am half way there yet…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3675 days

#3 posted 09-14-2010 04:29 PM

Steve, these are looking really great. love the mahogany choice of material for this.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3156 days

#4 posted 09-14-2010 04:34 PM

Thanks PurpLev,
It is my first time using furniture grade mahogany. It has taken on a darker color just while sitting in the shop. I am glad I bought some extra when I started this project.
This is an African Mahogany known as Khaya.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Lenny's profile


1596 posts in 3554 days

#5 posted 09-15-2010 04:21 AM

Hi Steve. Wow, what an endeavor. A tip of my cap to you for the amount of work you have done and all the hours you have put into this. The stools look marvelous. I am impressed with your ingenuity in coming up with jigs, spacer blockes, etc. to get the job done. On a selfish note, I am glad I read your post because I am making a picnic table right now and have been struggling to come up with a better idea than that suggested in the magazine for a specific cut on 16 pieces. (They recommend using a jig saw.) Seeing you use the tenoning jig, turned on the light bulb. I think I can rig something up tomorrow using mine. Thanks and once again, great job!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3156 days

#6 posted 09-15-2010 04:35 AM

Hi Lenny – I hope they turn out as well as I intend. Glad to hear you were able to find an inspiration. Good luck on your project. Thanks for the compliments!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3136 days

#7 posted 09-15-2010 04:41 AM

Welcome to the custom furniture market! These are really nice. Everything I read about Greene and Greene makes me think of this sort of work. They weren’t cheap in their work, either. Good wood costs good money. I’m just glad for you that you have the skills, or that would be a pile of firewood. The finishing work is going to be equally an amount of work. So, the question is, are you going to flinch every time someone sets their feet on the bottom stretcher? It’s time now to think about wear marks as a positive accent. I’ve fretted for years over that…I always want my handiwork to shine forever.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3156 days

#8 posted 09-15-2010 05:09 AM

Thanks AtomJack!
I hope my skills continue to be worthy of the quality of my materials. I “discovered’ Greene & Greene a little over a year ago. Their story is an inspiration even though the design is not derived from their work.
Finishing is going to be a challenge. I am considering prefinishing – this would be a new experience for me. I feel like I am less than halfway done (hopefully close).
As to those character marks to come. I always struggle with this, but I found I really want to create useful pieces that are also beautiful. Signs of use mean I was able to create utility. Hope that makes sense. I am considering a brass trim for the lower stretcher…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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