Mortise, tenon and maybe epoxy?

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Forum topic by Broglea posted 09-25-2011 04:16 AM 4540 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3113 days

09-25-2011 04:16 AM

Hey guys. Looking for a little guidance here. I’m getting ready for the final glue up of a storage bench and noticed that a few of the joinery is really loose. I didn’t do the best of job with some of the mortises and the tenons are loose.

Should/can I use epoxy in these joints to fill in some of the gaps or just use titebond. I’d really hate for the thing to come apart in a few years. I’m leaning towards epoxy. Thanks

14 replies so far

View maljr1980's profile


171 posts in 2478 days

#1 posted 09-25-2011 04:18 AM

id use liquid nail/pl 400 construction adhesive for the joint in this case

View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3113 days

#2 posted 09-25-2011 04:23 AM

Liquid nail is something I would not have thought of. Not the norm, but may be the ticket.

View maljr1980's profile


171 posts in 2478 days

#3 posted 09-25-2011 04:23 AM

yeah i know, but it goes on pretty thick and dries really hard, id be afraid of filling with an epoxy and not getting a strong bond

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3406 days

#4 posted 09-25-2011 04:36 AM

I have used my bandsaw to cut very thin laminates of wood in the past and glued them on to the tenons. I’ve also used the thin shavings I’ve made with my handplanes and glued them on to the tenons if I just needed it a little more snug.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5908 posts in 3216 days

#5 posted 09-25-2011 06:49 AM

I agree with DaleM on fixing the tenons by using thin laminates or shims. I’ve did exactly the same thing. I’ve even used a brown paper bag, cut off a piece, and wrapped it around the tenon. It depends on how snug or tight you want the tenon… Don’t make it too tight, and save some room for glue. I’m not too sure about the liquid nails idea. Might work….who knows…...

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#6 posted 09-25-2011 01:17 PM

+1 on Rick’s idea of using brown paper shims to tighten up the m&t fit. Gluing the shims to the tenon adds a few thousandths to the width of the tenon that can be easily sanded to give a snug fit.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View jevarn71's profile


83 posts in 3182 days

#7 posted 09-25-2011 01:43 PM

I wouldn’t use the brown paper as shims. I would use the wood shims however. The way wood glue works it will form a stronger bond. All else fails after you shim it to tighten the joint, use drawbore pins to lock it up for good.

-- Jason, JEV Woodworking

View rusty2010's profile


150 posts in 2580 days

#8 posted 09-25-2011 02:20 PM

Definety do what Jason said. I been there before and it works.

-- check, recheck then check again

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3766 days

#9 posted 09-25-2011 02:26 PM

I keep an assortment of the sides that are cut off of the tenons that I cut. If I get one that’s too loose. I glue the pieces back onto the tenon, and recut the tenon to the correct thickness.

View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3113 days

#10 posted 09-25-2011 02:59 PM

I thought of the shim solution after I posted the question. Thanks for the reponses everyone. The liquid nail comment is interesting.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3073 days

#11 posted 09-25-2011 04:25 PM

I’d also be inclined to shim the tenon by gluing on a thin piece of stock, then sanding or planing it until you’ve got a nice snug fit, again leaving a little room for glue, as others have said.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3292 days

#12 posted 09-25-2011 06:40 PM

Two problems with epoxy – sheer and heat. Epoxy will let go if you subject it to high heat (has to be pretty hot – but I have had things let go in my shop when the temperature outside is 102+). Sheer is a force that is not parallel to the seam – if the joint is going to have side to side stress you would be better suited gluing the joint as is and then using the epoxy as a filler.

I would go with the wood shim filler myself. I have had to resort to this kind of fix to repair mistakes and slips of the blade or chisel when making the Mortise or Tenons – I always keep some cut offs to use for making small pieces (use a sled) and then either sand or use a small hammer to fit to the gap. Glue is typically stronger then wood so the only issure on a wood shim is that the shim my split at the glue line. Make sure the grain direction of the filler matches that of the item being filled.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2872 days

#13 posted 09-25-2011 07:27 PM

Let me see if I can complicate this even further.

It appears that adding a shim is the winnah. And I like the various ideas for being prepared by making shim stock as you go. This procedure has the added benefit of creating an atmosphere where the potential error is already, in one’s mind, taken care of—hence a more peaceful approach and, likely, fewer opportunities to use the shims!

I’m with cr1: construction adhesive is a completely different animal, and not the right choice here.

I disagree with reggie. Epoxy in a trapped joint like MT is gong to be fine, perhaps even superior. It has the added benefit of sticking equally well to endgrain, so your total glue surface, application thickness being optimal, is greater than with wood glue. And epoxy fills voids and adheres to both surfaces. Just mix it very well, at least a minute, and beware the drug store brands.

Finally, the OP says it’s a storage bench, so I’m not envisioning any powerful racking forces wanting to make it go south, so I’d say there’s no need to lose sleep over this. Just shave the falldown and tap ‘er in with some Titebond intimately involved.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View SouthpawCA's profile


270 posts in 3255 days

#14 posted 09-25-2011 07:41 PM

What I’ve done with excellent success is to plane off, from a piece of scrap stock of the same wood, a shaving close to what you think you’ll need. Then glue it to the tenon in the grain direction. Let it harden. Try it again and if still loose repeat. If too thick you can remove some with sandpaper or use a plane to take a very thin shaving. others have recommended this plan of action which is totally better then trying to fill. It with glue.

-- Don

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