LumberJocks

The Perpetual Mortise and Tenon Question,

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by oldwolf posted 06-17-2010 04:53 AM 1305 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View oldwolf's profile

oldwolf

100 posts in 1922 days


06-17-2010 04:53 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining

I was having a discussion with someone the other day, well a debate, and it started up my curiosity, I decided to ask the question here as a kind of impromptu poll

Whatever tools you use to create your mortise and tenon joints, (hand tools, stationary tools, or a hybrid combo) you still have to decide the answer to this question. Which do you typically cut first, the mortise . . . or the tenon?

That is the question I want to hear answered from all of you. It’s kind of like the old “pins or tails” debate. Which side are you on?

Oldwolf

-- Oldwolf - http://insidetheworkshop.blogspot.com/


16 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112152 posts in 2242 days


#1 posted 06-17-2010 05:00 AM

I use a multi router since I’m using loose tenon joinery I cut mortises on both pieces.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View docholladay's profile

docholladay

1286 posts in 1724 days


#2 posted 06-17-2010 05:17 AM

I’m kind of with Jim in that I like loose tenon joinery. However, that said, I would definitely cut the mortise first and then the tenon. It’s easy to resize a tenon by either shaving with a shoulder plane or even just sandpaper. It is also easy to glue a shim on to a tenon if you accidentally cut it too small. However, precisely resizing a mortise is not so easy.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Gary's profile

Gary

7286 posts in 2098 days


#3 posted 06-17-2010 05:23 AM

Here here….I agree with doc

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View TheWoodsmith's profile

TheWoodsmith

108 posts in 1585 days


#4 posted 06-17-2010 06:13 AM

Mortise first, i dont trust my skills enough to size and place a mortise based on a tenon

-- I know its around here somewhere...

View wseand's profile

wseand

2320 posts in 1707 days


#5 posted 06-17-2010 06:31 AM

Mortise than Tenon.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14793 posts in 2341 days


#6 posted 06-17-2010 07:44 AM

Mortise first

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2487 days


#7 posted 06-18-2010 03:37 AM

Mortise first. It is relatively easy to take wood off the tenon to get it sized correctly but it is tough to add wood to a mortise that is too large.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2314 days


#8 posted 06-18-2010 03:45 AM

mortise first. as said – it’s easier to work on the tenon and resize it to fit the mortise than to resize the mortise blindly

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

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 1772 days


#9 posted 06-18-2010 04:42 AM

Yep! I concur, mortise first.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1740 days


#10 posted 06-18-2010 02:21 PM

I usually use loose tenons. However, on those occasions when I decide to do a conventional M&T joint I always cut the mortise first. Then I “sneak up” on the size of the tenon using a tenoning jig.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Domer's profile

Domer

248 posts in 2031 days


#11 posted 06-18-2010 09:00 PM

It seems unusual that everyone agrees on almost anything. I agree as well.

I use the Festool Domino most of the time for my M&T, but sometimes resort to the router with some jigs.

Domer

View oldwolf's profile

oldwolf

100 posts in 1922 days


#12 posted 06-23-2010 05:48 AM

Thank you everyone for your answers. Domer, I completely agree that it is unusual that agreement was happening, and I kind of feel bad to be the one to break up the togetherness.

I do infact cut my tenons first, I find sneaking up easier by paring the walls of the mortise, I was inspired enough by this question and by the seeming oddness that I seem to be that I wrote a article for my blog about the question and the methods I use when I make my M&T joints

you can check it out at my blog Inside The Oldwolf Workshop, and feel free to leave me a comment,

infact someone else out there has to cut the tenons first, I can’t be the only one! please speak up and help me feel better about myself :)

Cheers
Oldwolf

-- Oldwolf - http://insidetheworkshop.blogspot.com/

View MostlyHarmless's profile

MostlyHarmless

21 posts in 1559 days


#13 posted 06-25-2010 07:14 AM

I haven’t had a project that uses M&T joints yet, but I’d think that doing the tenon first would be the easier way to go. Only because you should be able to stencil the mortise around the tenon you already made. I can’t really see any way to stencil a tenon around an already made mortise. Is there a trick to this, or do you just go off measurements and trial’n error?

-- If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2558 days


#14 posted 06-25-2010 07:27 AM

mortise first but any man who cant cut the mortise after the tenon is only half the woodworker he thought he was.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View CaptainSkully's profile

CaptainSkully

1190 posts in 2223 days


#15 posted 06-29-2010 03:37 PM

I have found that cutting the mortise first (I’ve hacked them out by hand and with an MDF jig and a spiral upcutting bit) allows me to make the tenons with a stacked dado head on the table saw a little snug, then I use a sanding block to clean up the saw marks and dial in the fit.

If you’re exposing the ends of your through tenons, like I often do with Arts & Crafts furniture, it’s very important to get the fit nice and tight, since it will be the first place your eye will go. If I was paring down my mortise, I would be afraid to make a goof that would show. Plus, I’ve got to bevel the ends of my tenons anyway, so I might as well clean up the shoulders while I’m at it.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase