wedged mortise and tenon do ya do it?

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Forum topic by gljacobs posted 03-29-2011 10:32 PM 2342 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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76 posts in 2683 days

03-29-2011 10:32 PM

I recently glued up a stool that I’ll be posting soon and boy was it a learning lesson.

I didn’t have a problem going through the motions and completing what I wanted to do, but what I didn’t want was the imprecision.

My first trouble was with the slop between the mortise and tenon and that can be fixed with more practice.
The rough part was getting the wedge slot cut precisely in the middle of the spindle to the right size.
the two options I came up with are:

-to establish the cut before turning the legs. Either all the way and filling them temporarily or by starting them and then with a mirror on the back side of the bandsaw and finishing them after I was done turning

-To make a v-notch jig set up on my bandsaw. this option leaves the problem of squaring the cut down the axis of the spindle and the use of a table saw. (I should have added that I only really have a bandsaw, jointer and a planer, and hand tools which make everything take longer and require more skill.(not a problem if I had more time))

I opted to cut the wedge slots with a dovetail saw, which would have worked fine if I had more skill. I ended up trying to make a wedge shaped slot and then I had to trim each wedge to it’s corresponding leg because they were all different. Needless to say the time involved could have been cut down dramatically had I had different tools and/or better skills.

And I cut the wedges using a simple wedge jig(a notched piece of plywood). I hand planed the wedges before cutting them and then the reverse after they came off the bandsaw.

Please let me know if I’m just missing something or if these problem are legitimate because I was freaking out during glue up, taking the wedges out, trimming them and then refitting them(one leg actually split a little, I swore…repeatedly)

5 replies so far

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4030 posts in 2967 days

#1 posted 03-30-2011 12:30 AM

Were these blind tenons? Legs to seat?

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3047 days

#2 posted 03-30-2011 04:48 AM


If you’re talking blind wedged tenons, go to and look up the article “Fox Wedging, A Sly Joint for a Sly Joint for a 17th-Century Stool” by Alistair G. B. Wallace. It’s the most comprensive yet simple discussion I have seen. If you’re talking about through-wedged tenons as in a Windsor stool, Popular Woodworking had an article by Michael Dunbar in issue #178 October ‘09 that is very clear. I don’t have that one any longer, but for $6.00 you can download the whole issue as a pdf


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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19974 posts in 2679 days

#3 posted 03-30-2011 05:23 AM

I made the kerf cuts on my bandsaw for this quilt rack. Tip: watch the grain, so the you don’t wind up causing a split. It needs to be cross grain, rather then with the grain. The wedges for this project were just cut out on the bandsaw. A piece of scrap as thick as the wedges were wide. I just made a few “rip” cuts into the block, at about a 5 degree ( by eyeball) angle.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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76 posts in 2683 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 05:22 PM

They are through tenons and they are legs to seat.
Thanks for the replies guys, @bandit571 how did you line the kerf up on your bandsaw? was it marked out first?
For the wedges…if I get ya right, the scrap was as thick as the wedge slot was already and you didn’t have to fit them? How did you account for length?
If you did it all by eye you must be REALLY good. I had such a hard time doing mine. It was my first experience with it so maybe the next time around will be ALOT easier. Maybe.

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19974 posts in 2679 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 05:49 PM

The way those spindles were laid out, all I had to do was keep the fat part vertical. Table on the bandsaw is a bit small. The wedges can be trimmed to fit the openings with a chisel, or just a sharp knife. Since the ends of these spindles were 1/2”, some scrap that was also 1/2” thick worked just nice. Length was marked on each spindle, I just cut to the line.

Wedges: One could get a wedge from a hammer handle “kit”. Use the wood wedge in the kit as a lay-out tool to mark the first wedge on the scrap. Each wedge after that is just a matter of either a straight cut, or an angled cut.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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