Rounded Tenons

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Forum topic by MaroonGoon posted 02-20-2013 02:19 PM 1517 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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281 posts in 1980 days

02-20-2013 02:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question pine router joining

This is just a simple issue that can be easily resolved, but I am making mortise and tenon joints for my workbench. I have decided to route the mortises, leaving them rounded. I am using pine since it’s the most economical for me so it’s not the greatest wood. I routed one mortise nicely then I cut one tenon to width and length. I then used an old rasp that I found for $1 at a local flea market to round the edges to fit the mortise. It worked ok but because it was pine and I was using an old rasp it wasn’t clean and I had a hard time rounding edges close to the inside of the tenon. I figure there are better ways of doing this that create cleaner and more accurate rounded tenons, so what do ya’ll think? Any words of wisdom for this young grasshopper?


-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

6 replies so far

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2132 days

#1 posted 02-20-2013 02:24 PM

Sounds like you are on the correct track. Usually for mortise and tenons that will not show I use the same method. The rounding of the tenon does not have to be perfect since the strength of the joint is the flat glue surfaces. For close to the shoulder I use a chisel to finish shaping the round.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3180 days

#2 posted 02-20-2013 02:26 PM


Many people use a router jig with this, often horizontally mounted and/or with bearing guided bits.

The way you did this is a very popular way as well. I would make sure that you get a good wood rasp (as opposed to a file) to do the work. It shouldn’t take too long with the right tool(s).

BTW, I normally chisel the mortise square rather than to round the tenon…it becomes quick and easy with practice. I feel there is less guessing that way. And besides, I feel it’s an important skill to have when those tenons become the “through” variety.

Or, you could chicken out and just buy one of them fancy Festool Domino things. ;)

-- jay,

View bondogaposis's profile


4754 posts in 2373 days

#3 posted 02-20-2013 02:45 PM

That’s the way I do it. Nothing wrong with your method, you can clean them up a little better if you rough w/ the rasp and finalize w/ a file and a bit of judicious work w/ a chisel.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 1980 days

#4 posted 02-20-2013 02:52 PM

I can definitely see where you are coming from with the difference between a rounded tenon or squared mortise. I think I will give the squared mortise a try and see how that goes as well!

I didn’t figure there was a magic trick to it since it is so simple, I just had to question my methodology since I am such a novice :)

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View Holbs's profile


1878 posts in 2051 days

#5 posted 02-20-2013 02:54 PM

research rounded tenons and floating tenons. i believe, the standard historical basis on square mortise and tenons is because of the use of hand tools. rounded seems more practical if you will be using power tools.
from what i gathered, there is not “strength” difference from square to rounded. which also applies to floating tenons. if i were to be doing 10+ mortise and tenons on power tools, i would definitely consider floating tenons.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter

View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 1980 days

#6 posted 02-20-2013 03:19 PM

Wow, floating tenons sure would seem to be the way I need to go. I am going to have 16 MT joints and that would greatly help the process and accurate repetitiveness of all the joints. The only downside would be the initial set up time with creating a jig for the mortises but it seems like that would save time in the long run.

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

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