How do you Mortise and Tenon?

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Forum topic by zindel posted 08-16-2011 08:45 PM 4154 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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257 posts in 2615 days

08-16-2011 08:45 PM

I have seen close to a 100 ways people make mortise and tenons…okay so maybe not 100 but you know there are many different ways. Just wondering how everyone goes about it and why it seems to work the best?

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

34 replies so far

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3109 days

#1 posted 08-16-2011 09:34 PM

I’m a bit of a lazy man.

Dedicated tenon jig on tablesaw with dado blade
For wide stock I use fence standoff and miter guide

Mortise machine, clean up with chisel

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Fred Hargis

4954 posts in 2458 days

#2 posted 08-16-2011 09:42 PM

My favorite way is to cut the tenons on a table saw, and the mortises with a router/spiral bit. I’ve tried a few of the other methods, and these just seem to work out best for me.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View tctaylor79's profile


44 posts in 2560 days

#3 posted 08-16-2011 09:42 PM

Same as Nathan on the Tenons and my mortises are done with a mortise bit setup on the drill press.

-- Tim Taylor - GLT Woodworks

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2917 days

#4 posted 08-16-2011 09:48 PM

Tenons on the table saw or sometimes a router. Mortises by drilling holes and cleaning them up with a chisel. I dream about getting a mortising machine, though.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View pintodeluxe's profile


5620 posts in 2778 days

#5 posted 08-16-2011 09:50 PM

Tenons with a dado blade on the tablesaw. Mortises on the benchtop mortiser.

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

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 2615 days

#6 posted 08-16-2011 09:52 PM

tctaylor do you have one of those drill press mortise attachments? I was thinking about getting one of those but i would hate to damage my drill press or waste my money. I just do what brandon does for now but I always look for ways to improve.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3197 days

#7 posted 08-16-2011 10:00 PM

I had been doing the drill holes / follow up with chisels thing on the mortises, but I recently got a mortising machine. I am cutting mortises in things that don’t need them now…

Tenons are done with a dado stack on the table saw. My saw has a sliding miter table and it makes cutting tenons a breeze…

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View tbone's profile


275 posts in 3650 days

#8 posted 08-16-2011 11:37 PM

My tenons are done on the table saw AFTER I do the mortises with a plunge router and home made jigs. Up-cut spiral bits seem to be the charm for me. I’m a firm believer in the “sneak up on it” method of fitting the tenons to the mortises.

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

View mailee's profile


44 posts in 2443 days

#9 posted 08-16-2011 11:52 PM

I also use a tennon jig on the table saw for shorter lengths. for longer lengths I use a dado blade in my RAS. I use a dedicated mortice machine for the mortices.


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3259 posts in 2641 days

#10 posted 08-17-2011 12:01 AM

I am with Nathan. There are some that hand cut everything but I let the machines do the work for me. I do the adjustments for the machines.

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3427 days

#11 posted 08-17-2011 12:12 AM

Currently working on a maple workbench. Mortises were drilled out at the drill press with a forstner bit and then squared with hand tools. the tenons I have decided to cut but hand and fit with hand tools.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 3038 days

#12 posted 08-17-2011 12:13 AM

Dedicated Mortiser.

I cut tenons several ways, depending on the size, speed needed, and degree of accuracy.

If I need pure speed and the size is small…i use the band saw. Works great, but not very accurate.

If I have medium size and need for speed, but I also need some level of accuracy, I used the miter gauge and dado head with a sacrifice fence on the table saw.

If I have a lot of tenons to do and they are the same size, and accuracy is critical, I break out the tenoning jig and set it up!

All three serve their purpose.

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3708 days

#13 posted 08-17-2011 01:25 AM

Loose tenons milled on router table mortises made on horizontal router table.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3638 days

#14 posted 08-17-2011 01:28 AM

I use my Benchtop Mortiser for making the mortises, and my Unisaw for making the tenons.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10262 posts in 3613 days

#15 posted 08-17-2011 02:11 AM

The mortising is the easy part. Well, not really, but with a mortising
machine the sweat factor is vastly reduced. I hate mortising with
a router: noisy, messy and you have to make an elaborate jig or
keep laser-beam focus to make the cut turn out well.

cutting a lot of tenons efficiently is not so easy without a big shaper or
a tenoner, but you can approximate that by running two blades on a
table saw. My saw is a slider and not designed for double-blade cuts
at all.

The important thing, for consistency from part to part, is to cut the
tenons referencing from one face, not by flipping the boards and
cutting from each face, which leads to all sorts of inconsistency.

When I work up the creative energy to do it, I’m going to build a
panto-router a-la for cutting tenons.

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