Speed Tenons - Ever Use this Method?

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Forum topic by Ed Pirnik posted 11-07-2011 10:31 PM 7396 views 1 time favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 2979 days

11-07-2011 10:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tenon speed tenon tablesaw

Hi folks,

We recently ran a blog concerning a tablesaw tenoning technique Chris Becksvoort is pretty fond of. It started a pretty interesting conversation in the blog comments section and I’m kind of curious as to what folks here on LJ think.

You can see the speed tenon video here.

Anyhow – some folks were concerned with the fact that fingers might be too close to the blade but I feel as though one’s fingers are no closer using this technique then, for example, when ripping narrow stock with a push stick. Of course, then there’s the fact that as far as I can tell, there’s no way a woodworker could experience kickback using this technique, since you aren’t actually cutting a solid piece off but rather, whittling away at it.

Curious as to your thoughts on this? Me? I use it all the time- but then again, I’m an experienced woodworker.

Cheers everyone!

-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

27 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5525 posts in 3811 days

#1 posted 11-07-2011 10:42 PM

Ed—I have used this technique many times. If I have a bunch of tenons to do, I pull out the cast iron tenon jig, but if it is only a few, this is a faster, easier way to go.

I’m not sure I am as comfortable doing it with the stock miter gauge on my saw, but have an Incra miter gauge with a Mule Miter Gauge fence that gives me more to hang on to, and keep fingers and hands at a safer distance.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 2979 days

#2 posted 11-07-2011 10:54 PM

Hi Gerry:

Yeah, I tend to stick to more conventional methods if I’m ganging up a whole lot of tenons but like you, I find this a great deal easier if I’m only cutting a few. Example: I was building a quick web frame for a shaker writing table the other day and just didn’t feel like switching out the sawstop brake for use with a stacked dado set – I used this method and was very pleased. Saved me time when I only need to cut about six quick tenons.

That said, I do see the point some people made concerning putting this technique in the hands of someone less experienced.


-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2824 days

#3 posted 11-07-2011 10:56 PM

I use it when there are only a couple of tenons to make. I can make them before I can set up the tenon jig. I don’t feel insecure doing this.

View SPalm's profile


5322 posts in 4030 days

#4 posted 11-07-2011 11:05 PM

Doesn’t bother me. I have done similar. Kind of like cutting a cove on a TS.

But after getting FWW mag for over 25 years, I can not imagine you guys printing an article about this. It just does not seem to pass the PC safety rules that we have today.

Good blog discussion point although.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 3674 days

#5 posted 11-07-2011 11:30 PM

I would personally not do it that way, but I tend to be overly cautious with the table saw. I have a hard time convincing myself that it is safe to cut sideways on the table saw (cove cuts are another example) People do it, and sometimes they even look safe doing it, but I am not going to try.
However, your fingers look a bit closer to the blade then I think they should be. If you were a student in my shop class you would likely be doing book work for the day. although, sometimes book work is reaad and sumarize FWW articles so it might back fire on me ;)

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18373 posts in 3824 days

#6 posted 11-07-2011 11:37 PM

I have done many similar things like that on the TS.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 2979 days

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

Steve – yeah, reminded of us of cutting cove as well.

-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

View mailee's profile


44 posts in 2627 days

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

I have a dado cutter set up on one of my radial arm saws with an adjustable stop block and use that for cutting tennons, much quicker in my opinion. I then nip off the haunches on the band saw.


View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3395 days

#9 posted 11-08-2011 12:33 AM

I’ve done it in the past. Don’t do it anymore though. It still strikes me as an accident just waiting to happen. You can make the argument about experience, better equipment, etc making it safer. But I still don’t like the odds of basically shoving your hands into the blade.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View KenBry's profile


484 posts in 2596 days

#10 posted 11-08-2011 01:10 AM

I saw the video and the comments posted. All the Nay sayers on the safety side of things are always going to scream safety. If it’s new and different most folks are to stuck in their ways to accept it so they use the safety cop out.
I see the method to be perfectly safe as long as the operator is: trained, intellegent, and uses common sence. No one should use a tool in a manner they are not comfortable with. So if a person isn’t comfortable with this method then they simply have alternate ways to accomplish the same task.

I think if you guys arn’t afraid of the “safety Police” screaming, you should publish this method. Just cavet it that it’s an advanced technique that should only be performed by skilled and confident craftsman.

I honestly wish I saw the method 2 weeks earlier. I just cut 40 tenons with a dado blade and multiple passes. I might have tried this method instead if I had seen it before. Next project that needs tenons I am going to
try it out.
Oh if you like our responce and you publish it do we get a free subscription? LOL…

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

View planeBill's profile


506 posts in 2557 days

#11 posted 11-08-2011 01:24 AM

Well, I don’t know how this is going to make me look but until about six months ago I had never made a mortise and tenon joint and when I did this is how I did it. I am not an experienced woodworker but I am intelligent and I am cautious when it comes to my appendages. To me it seems to work perfectly well and does give you a tenon in no time. Also, it must be a somewhat natural way to do it for someone without any other tool save for a tablesaw and who needs to make some tenons.
I thought I had come up with something new, HUH! I had not seen anything like it posted anywhere until now and was sure it had to be the wrong way to do it but it is the only way that I have to do them so it how I make tenons.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3440 days

#12 posted 11-08-2011 02:54 AM

I would never have thought to make a tenon this way, but now, naturally, I have to go try it. No one has mentioned yet that the video says the result is “perfect”, “beautiful” and “smooth”. This sounds like reason enough to try it.

Would it be safer if the operator stood on the left side of the saw and pushed the workpiece away from himself?

Also, Asa says it’s the fastest way he knows. Wouldn’t a router table with the same setup (fence + miter gauge) be just as fast? Wouldn’t that also eliminate the tendency of the tablesaw method to produce a scalloped surface?

-- "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

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3278 days

#13 posted 11-08-2011 06:05 AM

Well he was on a Sawstop. I wonder how even the cheeks are with this method. Also like all flip-the-stock-over methods the final accuracy of the tenons is dependent of the milling of the stock.

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3971 days

#14 posted 11-08-2011 06:21 AM

LIGHT PASS IS KEY HERE, I can’t believe finewoodworking would publish this technique, shame shame…BC

View a1Jim's profile


117239 posts in 3726 days

#15 posted 11-08-2011 06:30 AM

I’ve done it and find it works fine but I mostly use loose tenons. I think it’s best to have some experience on a table saw before using this technique.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

showing 1 through 15 of 27 replies

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