M & T dimensions?

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Forum topic by DragonLady posted 03-23-2010 02:41 AM 1035 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DragonLady's profile


298 posts in 3205 days

03-23-2010 02:41 AM

I’m making my workbench, and about to start on the stretchers and legs. I thought I had this all figured out, but then I probably over-analyzed, and now I’m paralyzed!

Some questions:

1)What would good dimensions be for my mortises and tenons? My legs are 4.5”x 5.5” (beefy suckers!) and the stretchers will be 6” wide by 3” thick.

2) Should I make the tenons the full width with only 2 shoulders, or make them with 4 shoulders?

Keep in mind that I want the stretchers to be flush with the outside of the legs, so the mortise will not be in the middle of the leg, it will be offset to one side.

Help? This will be my very first M&T joint EVER, and I’d like it to be sturdy.

I’m also planning on attempting a drawbore with these, but might just end up with a simple pinning.

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

2 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3196 days

#1 posted 03-23-2010 05:11 AM

I have always heard the rule of thumb of a tenon being 1/3 the thickness.

I personally think that they look better with all sides being shoulders but I will support anything you choose ;)

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Les Casteel's profile

Les Casteel

160 posts in 3258 days

#2 posted 03-28-2010 03:50 PM

I agree with dkirtley about the 1/3 thing. Below is how I execute tough benches and worktables. I gave this advice to another person on another forum topic, I thought I would repeat the technique. Its based on using common dimensional lumber.

I buy Southern Yellow Pine at the Home Depot for benches. Its tough and it will harden over time till you almost can’t put a nail into it. Technically although coniferous it’s a hardwood. It also does quite well for the bench legs and stretchers, when laminated together.

I always used Faux mortise and tenons instead of milling them. For instance the legs. I would make a 5” x 5” leg. You take a 2” x 6” and rip to 5”. Then laminate 3 of them for the leg. You leave gaps in the inside board that are exactly 5” wide. The gaps become mortises. Then when you make the rails you laminate 3 more boards the same way, except you make the middle board 10” longer than the outside…you then have an instant 5” tenon on each end of the board. They slip right into the mortises and I would usually just clamp them and drill a couple of holes for dowels. These are beautiful thru tenons. Disassemble, add some glue clamp them back up and drive in the dowels. My grand-father used this technique to build timber frame barns when I was a kid. It goes really, really fast and looks really cool.

Email me if my instructions were not clear and you want to try it.

-- Les, Missouri,

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