Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Near Boston, Massachusetts
I'll be honest with you: at this point I'm still very much a beginner with hand tools, and I can't imagine cutting tenons with a power tool again unless I had a huge run of them to do. Half a dozen chairs, say. With a good backsaw and a wide bench chisel they're really pretty easy to cut. I'm building a lid for a tool chest that uses bridle joints at the corners, and cutting the tenons has been pretty easy, although my accuracy leaves something to be desired. I think about the jigs and time required to make them, and the space required to store them, and I just cringe. I don't have a big enough shop for that, and I'd rather be working on building skills than jigs.
Mortises, now... I would absolutely love to have a mortising machine. In the meantime, I'll cut most of my mortises (in the summer, when I can use the big shop) with a drill press and clean them out with a chisel.
Now... all of that said, please don't take this to mean I think YOU should never use a power tool. If that's what you're in to, or if you're expecting to do large runs, go for it! But I do think it might be worth your time to buy a decent handsaw and give that a try. You might find it a lot easier than you expect.