Can you make a tenon with a router?

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Forum topic by Peter5 posted 12-14-2010 10:26 PM 6456 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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65 posts in 2220 days

12-14-2010 10:26 PM

I’ve been contemplating how to get my tenons better with large pieces of lumber. I can get them pretty crisp with smaller projects, but with large stock it’s quite difficult to get the lumber to stay in place with the miter gauge. I was thinking of trying to make the tenon with a rabbit bit on a router, by just setting the proper depth and routing away a rabbit all around to reveal the tenon. It seems like this would give me much more control, not having to push a big piece of lumber through a saw. The only downside I can think of is that I could only make the tenon as long as the rabbit, but my 3/8 inch rabbit is fine for most of the jobs I have in mind. Am I failing to think of something here, or is this worth a try?

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

19 replies so far

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2273 days

#1 posted 12-14-2010 10:37 PM

Hey Peter, I am sort of in the same boat as i need to make tenons on an approximately 4’x2’ table top for breadboard ends. I have seen/read people use a router to do these with a regular straight bit and a guide. I do not see why a router would not work. What I am concerned with is the removal of stock between the tenons. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in.

-- Tampa-FL

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5589 posts in 2649 days

#2 posted 12-14-2010 10:42 PM

I bet you could come up with some sort of jig to guide it, kind of like a router planing jig… I am sure it’s doable, but how hard do you want to work at it?

-- My workshop blog can be found at

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65 posts in 2220 days

#3 posted 12-14-2010 10:42 PM

Hi Camper, thanks for your thoughts. I’m not concerned about removing stock between tenons because these are hidden (not through) so I’m just making one big tenon and one big mortise. I think I’m going to just try it out today- I’ll report back.

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

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2277 posts in 3586 days

#4 posted 12-14-2010 10:43 PM

Here’s a site to find a jig: tenon jig

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Peter5's profile


65 posts in 2220 days

#5 posted 12-14-2010 10:43 PM

dbhost, I was planning to use a rabbit bit with a bearing, so no jig necessary- I think.

-- Pete, Long Beach, CA

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2273 days

#6 posted 12-14-2010 10:47 PM

Peter, I am no expert but I think one of the things frequently pointed out regarding larger pieces of wood is wood movement due to change in humidity etc. I am not sure a single tenon (I am assuming glued) would accommodate this….I have seen in several places multiple tenons where the center one is glued and the other ones are not glued….again I hope someone with more experience can chime in…

-- Tampa-FL

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5839 posts in 3002 days

#7 posted 12-14-2010 10:52 PM

Why not if your unsure of this make mortices on both ends and fit floating tenons. They are much easier to make .Make this so you have two mortices (holes ) and one longer tenon (rod) to fit between both they glue up great a dry fit being the best way so that all fitting is spot on before gluing best of luck with your project look up floating tenons on the web browser,Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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4930 posts in 3080 days

#8 posted 12-14-2010 10:57 PM

Pete—Check this out …


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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983 posts in 2427 days

#9 posted 12-14-2010 11:04 PM

You could put together a horizontal slot mortiser…a fairly easy project if you have some ply and mdf laying around. The hardware requirements are minimal.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View rance's profile


4243 posts in 2577 days

#10 posted 12-14-2010 11:15 PM

Your choice:

1) Long straight bit on router & use tennoning jig

2) Horizontal Router ( )

3) Pantorouter ( ) (new)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View AaronK's profile


1436 posts in 2881 days

#11 posted 12-14-2010 11:39 PM

pat warner had a jig that did this – it looked like the popular designs for a loose tenon jig, but used a piloted rabbet bit to go around the end of the stock to shape the tenon. I think with a collet extension you could easily make longer tenons.

alternatively, you could always mill them out using a plunge router with the workpiece fixed and moving the router over multiple pieces for stability and accuracy.

View tbone's profile


273 posts in 3101 days

#12 posted 12-14-2010 11:43 PM

Here’s a good explanation of what I think you are asking. I did a breadboard end for my dining table and have been pleased with the results.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

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1436 posts in 2881 days

#13 posted 12-14-2010 11:46 PM

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2491 days

#14 posted 12-15-2010 01:02 AM

Usually you cut the mortise first and you fine tune the size of the tenon to fit. A router with a rabbet bit will not let you easily vary the size of the tenon.

If your willing to spend some money, here is the perfect solution

To be totally “up front” I considered this option but did not buy it. Instead I went with this option, which uses loose tenons, and I am very happy with it.

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

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2317 days

#15 posted 12-15-2010 01:17 AM

I made a walnut bed and chose to make mortises in the posts and tenons at the ends of the (8” by 7’ by 1 1/2”) side rails. I used a hand-held router with a straight bit and a fence. I agree with richgreer that the mortises should be cut first, then the tenons. I left the tenons about 1/32 oversized, then hand-sanded down to a snug fit.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

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