How to Make Tenons on Small Work Pieces?

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Forum topic by FlushTrimBit posted 04-09-2017 09:43 PM 597 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 590 days

04-09-2017 09:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining tenon dado domino

I’m about to start building the Queen bed version of WW’s bed:

I will be using my jointer, planer, table saw, dado stack, band saw, ROS, router mounted in a mortising jig, and plunge router. I don’t have access to domino equipment.

As you can see in image from the plan PDF shown below, it is required to cut several small stiles, 3” in total length including a 1/2” tenon on each side. What’s your best suggestion for how I can cut these given the equipment I have? Start with a longer work piece, dado out the tenon on both sides, then use a cross-cut sled on the table saw to lop off the work piece?

Many thanks!

EDIT: I do not have a vise nor hand saws.

11 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3299 days

#1 posted 04-09-2017 10:12 PM

Use that router in the mortising jig and cut mortises into the 2” pieces. Then assemble with loose tenons.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10081 posts in 3579 days

#2 posted 04-09-2017 10:32 PM

I would just dowel those parts personally, but
doing a gang of them using a dado blade
would work too.

View TheFridge's profile


9062 posts in 1417 days

#3 posted 04-09-2017 10:36 PM

I cut tenons that size with a dovetail saw. I wouldn’t hesitate to use a cheap tenonning jig that slides on the table saw fence.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View builtinbkyn's profile


2035 posts in 871 days

#4 posted 04-10-2017 01:25 AM

Why not cut a wider boards with the tenon on each end then rip them to 2” and finish the tenon shoulders on your band saw or with a dovetail saw?

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View a1Jim's profile


117029 posts in 3508 days

#5 posted 04-10-2017 02:01 AM

Rip the wood to 2”x 3/4” on a longer stick router the tenons where they belong then cut it off the longer 2” piece of wood.

-- wood crafting & classes

View Woodknack's profile


11293 posts in 2311 days

#6 posted 04-10-2017 07:15 AM

Tenon jig and table saw

-- Rick M,

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2289 posts in 578 days

#7 posted 04-10-2017 02:25 PM

I agree with the Fridge … cut them all by hand! Just yesterday I formed 3/8 inch think tenons on 3/4 inch x 2-5/16 inch cherry stock by hand …

... hold the work piece(s) to the bench with a bar-clamp!


-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View bondogaposis's profile


4632 posts in 2282 days

#8 posted 04-10-2017 03:04 PM

I would make those on a router table using a small parts holding sled.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Marcial's profile


136 posts in 476 days

#9 posted 04-10-2017 03:29 PM

Small parts on power equipment carry a high risk of chewed up parts- yours or what you’re working on. A small hand saw and a chisel is good risk management.

View builtinbkyn's profile


2035 posts in 871 days

#10 posted 04-10-2017 04:28 PM

If I was going to be using power tools, this is how I would consider doing it.

I’d rabbet both edges and sides and then part the pieces on the table saw using a sled or miter gauge. Then finish the cheeks and side shoulders on each piece with a dovetail saw or bandsaw.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2041 days

#11 posted 04-10-2017 04:35 PM

That part isn’t that small…

It would be very simple and plenty safe to make them on a table saw in a sled. Clamp a stop block in place for length, and use the eraser on a new wooden pencil to hold the part in place.

Rip a strip of them, use a stop to cut them to length, then move the stop, lower the blade and cut all the shoulders with the same setup. The floor of the sled will support the stock at the rear and face, making perfectly clean shoulder cuts.

Once the shoulders are defined, make the faces with a dado set.

I would cut the matching mortises first, the use them as a gauge to sneak up on the tenon thickness. Once you’re there, bang out the others.

Depending on the accuracy of the shoulder cut depth, you’ll either have a shallow groove of no consequence at the shoulder end of the tenon, or a slight ridge to remove. If you have the ridge, simply register the back of a sharp chisel to the tenon face and slice them off.

Hope this helps!

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