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Routing Tenons

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Forum topic by Ben posted 01-19-2011 09:59 PM 1688 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ben

50 posts in 1372 days


01-19-2011 09:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tenon router

I am looking for some advice. I am making a buffet server with mortise and tenon joints joining each of the frame beams and center beams which will support the shelves, and I have reached a dilemma. I was able to pretty easily mortise the frame pieces using a mortising bit in the plunge router with an edge guide and a stop at each end of the mortise. I will be frame and paneling birch plywood in as the back and sides by mortising a ¼” groove and doing double half laps on the plywood.

I am having some trouble with the tenons. I know from previous posts that I could or should use a table saw and a dado set but my table saw is a cheapo, and I don’t have the cash or trust in myself to use or buy the dado set just yet (and a custom insert would have to be made as the Skil insert still leaves gaps). The saw just “aint right” as with a great carbide 80 tooth blade it wasn’t near flat when I tried it with the single blade. Anyway, many of the pieces are far too long for either the table saw or router table. I do not own a band saw.

So I have hand cut a few tenons but am having a heck of a time getting them rounded perfectly or getting flat faces. Moreover, it is very hard work even with a good back saw, and the accuracy is suffering. I read a post and tracked down an article by Bill Hylton here http://www.norwesttools.com.au/page/shop/info_page/a/infopage_id/e/57.

He used a jig, but if you band together the tenon pieces, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t do this with a plunge router, a stop, and some scrap of the same width to support the router on the ends and sides. Simply rout all the way around the tenon pieces, one side at a time. I could then round the shoulders best that I can with a rasp and file. Or, use a chisel to square the mortise. Am I missing something? If I was able to do say four or five at a time, wouldn’t this work and save some time? Has anyone tried this? It might not be the most efficient, but is there something that prevents this from working?

-- Wood is good.


12 replies so far

View levan's profile

levan

411 posts in 1667 days


#1 posted 01-19-2011 10:34 PM

Making tenons with a router. Certainly nothing wrong with that. I’m sure you can make them with the method you describe. If you have a sled on your saw maybe you could cut a kerf in the shoulders and face with the table saw to help avoid tear out.
Yet another option might be to make loose or floating tenons That way you could just mortise both pieces and make the loose tenons seperately. I really like loose tenons they are so easy and quick to make. Best wishes

-- Lynn "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Ben's profile

Ben

50 posts in 1372 days


#2 posted 01-19-2011 10:36 PM

Thanks Lynn. I think I will cut the Kerf, or alternatively take really shallow passes with the router. I thought about loose tenons, but 4 of the frame pieces are 50” long, so no idea how to get a mortise in the end without a horizontal router.

-- Wood is good.

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Ben

50 posts in 1372 days


#3 posted 01-19-2011 10:38 PM

Also, it seems like gently hammering out the mortise with a chisel the same width as the mortise would be easier than rounding the tenons. Am I crazy? It seems to be awfully tough to get a perfect rounded tenon with a file and rasp without spending all day on one tenon.

-- Wood is good.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1762 days


#4 posted 01-19-2011 11:56 PM

You would probably find it easier to use loose tenons. If you want to spend some money, the Mortise Pal system is a great way to make loose tenons. However, all you really need is the ability to put a mortise in each piece and then cut a tenon that fits into the 2 mortises.

Loose tenons are almost as strong as “real” tenons and, if you don’t tell anyone, no one will know this is what you did.

Cut your mortises with a router and trim your tenons with a bullnose bit (or round over bit) at the router table.

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

View Ben's profile

Ben

50 posts in 1372 days


#5 posted 01-20-2011 12:01 AM

Thanks Rich. But what about the long pieces?

-- Wood is good.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7734 posts in 2336 days


#6 posted 01-20-2011 12:25 AM

you can cut the cheeks and refine the shoulders on a router table
with a fence on shorter stock, but when your part gets too heavy
to hold the end down (maybe get a bigger router table), what I do
is make a frame out of two piece of MDF or ply. Stack them together
and drill a 1/4” hole at either end. This will be a fence you clamp
to the end of the board, and if your holes are in the same place
your tenon shoulders should be cut from reference fences that are
close enough to parallel some minor chisel paring should be sufficient
to make close-fitting mortises.

In use, you may want to waste-out the cut with a dado blade or
handheld circular saw, but leave the end of the board full width
because you’ll use that to keep your router base perfectly perpendicular
when you cut the shoulders running the edge of the base against
the fence. Cut the shoulders first on each face, then bump the jig
over a bit so there’s no chance to rout a divot into the shoulders.
Then cut the rest of the tenon cheek to depth, checking it for
width with a dial caliper. Finally, cut off the excess on the end of the
board either with a crosscut, cut the tenon haunches and finish
up by trimming with a chisel and/or shoulder plane.

Rounding tenons off with a file is pretty quick work in my experience.

If this is freaking you out, get Gary Rogowski’s book on router joinery –
it’s very good and doesn’t demand you buy whiz-bang fancy tools to
cut precise through-tenons with his methods.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1762 days


#7 posted 01-20-2011 01:09 AM

I’m not sure what you mean by “the long pieces”. I will opine that anything you can do with a regular tenon you can do with a loose tenon. I agree that putting a mortise in the end of a long piece can be awkward, but I have done it. A hand held router can be used horizontally.

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

View Ben's profile

Ben

50 posts in 1372 days


#8 posted 01-20-2011 01:12 AM

Thanks Rich. I could do it horizontally with stops and the edge guide riding on top of the piece? Do you recommend buying the prefabricated dimensional tenons?

-- Wood is good.

View levan's profile

levan

411 posts in 1667 days


#9 posted 01-20-2011 01:59 AM

Ben I have put mortises in some long pieces by clamping them to a bench vertically or horizontal. The biggest thing is to keep the router from tipping out of square. I would make a plywood table top that is large enough for the router base. You would need to cut a rectangle in the center for the bit to pass through and nail cleats on the sides to clamp to the rail. You could put stops on the top of the ply to size the mortise. hope this helps

-- Lynn "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1762 days


#10 posted 01-20-2011 03:20 AM

If you are just beginning to do loose tenon work the pre-fabricated tenons may be a good idea. After you have a little experience you’ll want to make your own.

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

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 1794 days


#11 posted 01-20-2011 03:49 AM

This a rabbetting bit with several different bearings that you can use to make tenons. They are made by Whiteside in good old USA and I got mine from MLCS on sale for 28 bucks. They make great 1/2 long tenons very easily.

View Ben's profile

Ben

50 posts in 1372 days


#12 posted 01-20-2011 07:02 PM

Thank you so much guys. I’ll give it a shot with my straight flat bottom bit and stops rather than bearings first and see how it goes. I did this to rabbet out grooves on a bookshelf and it seemed to work. One thing I still don’t get is the bit size, mine are Freud, pretty good bits, one is 3/4” with a 1” cutting length mortiser and one is 1/4” but the 3/4 inch ply was too large by 1/16” to fit in the rabbet and my 1/4” dowels were a tad large for the holes. Am I missing something in size? I figured a straight rabbet with a 3/4” bit would fit perfectly with 3/4” ply (which was spot on at 3/4”) but it didn’t, I had to move the stop over 1/16” and rout a little larger rabbet. The dowels were just too lose altogether.

-- Wood is good.

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