Through mortices in thick lumber

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Forum topic by kimball posted 07-01-2010 12:04 AM 1105 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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323 posts in 2718 days

07-01-2010 12:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: through mortices or mortises joining


Over the last couple of years I have developed a fondness for Mission Style furniture. I have struggled to get tight fitting through mortice and tennon joints especially in thick lumber such as legs. I have a morticing machine, a couple of drill presses, a horizontal router table and a vertical router table. But I still have to really “sneak up” on the final size of the mortice (which I make first) otherwise there is tearout or just a sloppy looking hole. Any of you folks have any suggestions or a real good video that I can watch?


7 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2418 days

#1 posted 07-01-2010 12:42 AM

I have been using a multi-tool with a plunge blade. It makes it really easy to get nice crisp sides. It has been a bit of a learning curve and it won’t do small ones but for big thick stuff, it has been great.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2375 days

#2 posted 07-01-2010 12:48 AM

I don’t have a fancy video for you, but I can tell you what I do …

I cut ‘em by hand … do your layout on both sides of the workpiece taking care that you’re marking guage’s fence is referencing the same edge, then just cut with a chisel from both sides of the piece.

Depending on the design of the piece that you are making, you can make a wedged tenon which will hide small errors. (Cut your mortise slightly longer on the exit side of the piece, cut a couple of kerfs in the tenon, and drive a small wedge of wood into the kerf. This will effectively make the tenon into a big dovetail that will never come apart.)

View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 2465 days

#3 posted 07-01-2010 02:48 AM

Are you trying to go all the way through one side? No matter what method you choose (and it sounds like you have a lot of choices!), you have to come from both sides, otherwise tearout is unavoidable.

View blackcherry's profile


3292 posts in 3243 days

#4 posted 07-01-2010 03:15 AM

I cut my mortise first and then cut my tenon on the band saw a bit oversize and use my shooting jig and a rabbet plane to get the snug fit. It been the best result for me for quit some time now, but there plenty of way’s to skin a cat…BC

View Gary's profile


8965 posts in 2853 days

#5 posted 07-01-2010 03:28 AM

Maybe, but, the cat ain’t gonna like none of em

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

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2998 days

#6 posted 07-01-2010 03:45 AM

If you draw out the mortise on both sides and then make a jig and use a router and a rub color to mortise out the back, if not both sides then complete the through mortise and clean up with chisels and a pattern makers file. Then cut the tenon to size for a perfect fit.

-- Custom furniture

View kimball's profile


323 posts in 2718 days

#7 posted 07-01-2010 02:06 PM

I think I see my problem. I have been trying to go through from one side. Never thought about attacking it from both sides.

Whew! It sure is nice having you folks to fall back on. Thanks,


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