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Help with sizing tenons for small table.

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Forum topic by cwdance1 posted 02-03-2011 12:49 AM 1397 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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cwdance1

1158 posts in 2726 days


02-03-2011 12:49 AM

OK, so I want to make a small table to go next to my couch. The table top will be around 16” x 24”. The table legs will be around 24” tall made out of 8/4 walnut. The table skirt will be 4/4 walnut, 4” wide. I want to mortise and tenon the skirt onto the legs. Since I have never done a mortise and tenon I have no idea as to what size the tenon should be. I’m pretty sure there is some kind of rule of thumb for doing this.

Thanks
Terry


8 replies so far

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rwyoung

388 posts in 2939 days


#1 posted 02-03-2011 01:05 AM

Tenon thickness is typically 1/3 the stock thickness. Set the specific size based on how you plan to cut the mortise. Pick the closest size stock removal tool to match 1/3 the thickness of the apron piece.

Starting with 4/4 material, you probably be sizing that down to 7/8” or 3/4” after flattening the two faces. So if you were at 3/4” then a 1/4” thick tenon is about right. A little more, a little less, no big deal.

The depth of the tenon is a function of the leg size. If the legs are square at the top, then your two apron pieces will have tenons that meet in the middle. You can either miter the ends of the tenons, cut one slightly shorter so the adjacent piece can pass or cut each in opposing “L” shapes so half of each tenon passes the adjacent one. Or you can make them just a little bit shorter so the mortises don’t meet in the middle of the leg. Your call. For an occasional table, there are limits to the number of elephants that can be simultaneously dancing on the surface so maximum strength isn’t such a huge concern.

Another option would be a “bare face tenon”. That is a three sided tenon.

If you expect to be dragging the table about frequently, you might want to consider a “haunched tenon” so that it can better resist the wracking force as the legs get caught up in carpet.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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JJohnston

1614 posts in 2759 days


#2 posted 02-03-2011 05:09 AM

Actually, I submit that since the legs are so much thicker than the skirt, there is almost no such thing as making the tenon too thick (since the 1/3 rule is to achieve a balance between the thickness of the tenon and the thickness of the material left on each side of the mortise). Even if you used the whole thickness of the skirt as a tenon (no shoulder at all), you’d still have at least half an inch of material left on each side of the mortise. I’d think you would be fine having only a minimal shoulder.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

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steliart

1817 posts in 2155 days


#3 posted 02-03-2011 05:09 PM

Personally I prefer to work with loose tenon joinery, I find them easier to do and they hold equally strong. The 1/3 rule is ok, but I prefer to give it a bit more thickness than that if possible.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - http://www.steliart.com --

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2542 days


#4 posted 02-03-2011 05:35 PM

4/4 usually ends up being 3/4” thick. With 3/4” stock I like to use 3/8” tenons. I find it easier to make 3/8” mortises than 1/4”.

Let me also endorse Steli’s comment on loose tenons.

Other than the Festool Domino (which is quite expensive), I think the Mortise Pal jig is the best for loose tenon joinery.

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

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steliart

1817 posts in 2155 days


#5 posted 02-03-2011 07:09 PM

richgreer

Never understood why Festool asks so much for her tools, Mortise pal is a very good substitute as well as the beadlock mortise jig system. I just use my homemade jig for that.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - http://www.steliart.com --

View cwdance1's profile

cwdance1

1158 posts in 2726 days


#6 posted 02-04-2011 04:46 AM

Ok, guys thanks for your help.

Do you think pegging the mortise would give it any extra strength?

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pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2281 days


#7 posted 02-04-2011 04:57 AM

Yes, a peg through the mortise and tenon will add strength. It can be decorative as well.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2542 days


#8 posted 02-04-2011 05:22 AM

If a tenon is properly glued in the mortise you will have all the strength you need and a peg is essentially for show. I’ve used pegs when I had a less than perfect joint.

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

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