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How do I do fake mortise tenon?

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Forum topic by JustJoe posted 10-03-2013 05:44 PM 1989 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1502 days


10-03-2013 05:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question fake mortise

Picture an old baby’s crib with slats on the sides.
If there are 50 slats on a side then you have to make a top rail, a bottom rail, and 100 mortises.
Without an assistant and a mortise machine that would suck.

I’m building something that only needs about 10 slats and I don’t want to chop 20 tiny (1/2×1”) mortises. Isn’t there a way to do fake mortises by routing a groove the length of the top and bottom piece, setting the slats in that groove, and then filling in the space between the slats with a filler strip the exact thickness of the groove?
I thought it had been done, and I thought I’d seen it here on LJ, but I’m not finding it now.

thanks
Joe

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20 replies so far

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GOOD LUCK TO ALL

418 posts in 1191 days


#1 posted 10-03-2013 05:48 PM

Yeah, but you will have a lot of edges to sand where you fill in the pcs.
Why not just butt joint them and countersink and screw them in, then fill the countersink with a plug.
(if you want easy, just saying)

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Nygiants77

57 posts in 1421 days


#2 posted 10-03-2013 05:49 PM

forget the plug just use wood filler if you are going to paint it

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1502 days


#3 posted 10-03-2013 05:52 PM

I guess that’s an idea, but then 20 countersunk screws that small, and make/install 20 face-grain plugs on top of that seems just as hard as making the 20 blind mortises. I’m feeling particularly lazy today so I’m looking for the EASY button.
And no, I’m not going to paint it. (Yet. If I make enough mistakes then paint is always a possibility.)

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Don W

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#4 posted 10-03-2013 05:53 PM

Or do the top and bottom in 2 pieces (each). Cut the grooves like a dado and add the side after the slats are in. You could even make the top from a wider piece, cut the dados the rip it into 4 for the 4 pieces.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

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RockyTopScott

1184 posts in 2942 days


#5 posted 10-03-2013 05:55 PM

I am not sure I can describe this accurately but I have seen them (the slats)set in dentil type inserts then the entire length of the insert set in a dado in your rails…if that makes sense?

Like a strip of box joints inserted in a dado with each joint the width of the slat.

Hell I dunno.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1502 days


#6 posted 10-03-2013 05:56 PM

Top and bottom (two of each) are already made, cut to size, and mortise/tenoned into their end pieces.

RockyTopScott – no it doesn’t! but it sounds vaguely familiar like I can’t picture it but I know I should be able to. I think if I saw a pic/sketch it would be the thing I’m looking for.

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bondogaposis

4028 posts in 1815 days


#7 posted 10-03-2013 06:02 PM

The way to do it is quite simple. First plow a dado in the rails the the width of the slats but deeper than the mortices. Then make a filler strip the exact width of the dado and and the exact depth of the mortice dado. Then cut notches in the filler strip like you would for a box joint. Make the notches the width of the slats and the space between them determines the slat spacing. Cut both top and bottom inserts at the same time to assure uniformity. Glue the fillers into their respective dados and you have instant mortices sized and spaced on both top and bottom rails.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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tefinn

1222 posts in 1901 days


#8 posted 10-03-2013 06:02 PM

JustJoe – That’s a perfectly acceptable way of doing it. You see it in plenty of project plans from some of the woodworking mags. Gives you the look with less work and hassle. Also makes it easier for novice woodworkers with lesser tools or skils make nice projects.

Nygiants77 – You can’t use that much wood filler in a groove 1/2”x1” between the slats.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

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RockyTopScott

1184 posts in 2942 days


#9 posted 10-03-2013 06:05 PM

Bondo explained it MUCH better

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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tefinn

1222 posts in 1901 days


#10 posted 10-03-2013 06:08 PM

bondo – You don’t need to cut the notches in the filler. Just cut the filler to fit the space between the slats. Glue each one in using a slat as a spacer on the top and bottom rails. Then put it together with the slats inserted into the ready made mortises.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

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mummykicks

85 posts in 1266 days


#11 posted 10-03-2013 06:28 PM

Dowel it?
Dowelmax or similar. If you made a jig to drill the ends of the slats (ideally on the drill press) it would be very quick. Or something that clamps the slat to a work bench and holds the dowel jig in the right spot so you can just pop it in, drill it, next… Would be very quick and easy.
I’d use west system epoxy or similar rather than wood glue, both for extended working time and the fact that wood glue will swell the dowels and you might not be able to pull the joint together by the time you get from one end to the other. Maybe with enough clamps…

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crank49

3981 posts in 2435 days


#12 posted 10-03-2013 06:42 PM

Make the rail in three parts.
A continuous back, pieces for the “mortise” divisions, and a continuous front piece.
That’s how I did stair rail balusters.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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firefighterontheside

13479 posts in 1320 days


#13 posted 10-03-2013 06:53 PM

My father in law built bunk beds for my boys last year. He said the plans called for the process that you originally described, Joe. He didn’t want to do that though, so he mortised every slat. My boys slept on mattresses on the floor because it took him so long to finish. The headboard and foot board had wide tops that were rounded on the top. He had to rip the bottom several inches off to be able to put under his mortiser and then glue back together.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1502 days


#14 posted 10-03-2013 07:09 PM

Firefighter Bill – that’s one more reason not to try and chop all those teeny mortises by hand.

Bondo – thanks, I think you described that clearly enough that even I can figure it out!

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OggieOglethorpe

1212 posts in 1574 days


#15 posted 10-03-2013 07:18 PM

I’ve done it Bondo’s way on outdoor furniture.

If you choose your stock and orient it relatively carefully, you can glue the spacers in place but not the slats, and run a hand plane or sanding block down the strip after the glue dries. Sanding problem solved!

Once you’ve surfaced the strip, you can install the slats as usual.

If the stock is chosen well, you need to be extremely close to tell that the spacers are not the same board.

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