Easiest ways to make a mortise and tenon joint - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-23-2015, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Easiest ways to make a mortise and tenon joint

So I'm new to making mortise and tenon joints and recently attempted my first one. I'm doing these for breadboard ends on table tops with 1 1/2" thick doug fir. I used my fixed base router with a 3/4" x 1/2" deep straight cut bit for the tenon and a 1/2" x 2 1/2" straight cut bit for the mortise by doing multiple passes. Like I said, it worked, but it wasn't pretty. I used a straight edge clamp to guide the router on the table top which was about 36" wide for the tenon and then made a basic DIY router table by just mounting it upside down on a piece of plywood and using my saw horses to do the mortise (raising the bit higher in small increments). My question is...are there any jigs/tools out there that you would recommend to make this process much easier that also won't cost a million dollars to purchase? I would like to keep the joint hidden, however I'm not opposed to it being visible on the sides.
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-24-2015, 10:13 PM
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I used to use a router for mortises. Now I have a mortiser. But what I did was make my own jigs. I'd draw the mortise out on a thin piece of plywood and add 3/8 to the whole outline. And cut it out with a scrollsaw or jigsaw. I'd install a 3/8" bushing on the router and run it inside the hole I cut in the plywood. Easy peasy. The only difficult part was finding a way to clamp the plywood to my work piece. Now, what I'd do there is typically tack a piece of wood to the bottom of my jig that would allow it to be clamped to the work piece just where I wanted it. Then I'd just square off the corners with a chisel. I cut my tenons on a table saw. Do you have a table saw?
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-24-2015, 11:42 PM
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For what you are doing multiple passes isn't a good idea. It creates a mortise that is irregular. The mortise will be wider toward the surface than at the bottom because each time you will take a little wood off the side. This might not be an issue on a glued joint but a breadboard end isn't glued and needs a more precise fit. You would be better off with a shorter tenon which you can make the mortise in one cut. Most of the tables I've worked on with a breadboard end the tenon was only about an inch to 1 1/4".
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-29-2015, 09:09 AM
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Routing the mortise is ok and a good option since its a stop mortise.

As for the tenon, something like this is best approached with the TS, IMO.
You will get a cleaner shoulder cut following the procedure below, especially in brittle wood like fir.

The technique would be as follows:

1. Scribe the shoulder and cheek lines with a marking knife or marking gauge. Bear in mind the cheek lines are guides you will fine tune it later.
2. Using a dado blade, and cutting just short of the line AND the depth, make the cheek cuts.
3. Pare down to the shoulder line using a shoulder plane or chisel. If you use a chisel, then clamping a guide to maintain 90 degrees is very helpful.
4. Using a combination of a block plane and a rabbet or shoulder plane, fine tune the tenon cheeks to fit. You can also use a large router plane this works very well.

In situations like this, I've noticed a lot of people remove sections of the tenon leaving an inch so that there are 3 deep tenons, one on each end and one in the middle.

The biggest thing is sneak up on it don't try for perfection right off the machine.

Last edited by DrRobert; 04-29-2015 at 09:28 AM.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-30-2015, 03:28 PM
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If you want power tools, the best bet is probably a hollow-chisel mortise machine. The Harbor Freight module seems to currently be getting decent reviews, if not actually good ones, so if you don't mind having to do some tuning and tweaking it might be worth a look.

If you don't care about speed, a good set of chisels and a mallet can work quite well. Douglas Fir is, in my limited experience, kind of a nightmare to mortise by hand, but it can be done.

I've come to rather dislike the "drill out most of it, then clean up with chisels" option, because I always end up making my mortises too big. I'd rather do the whole job by hand, or by machine.

Full disclosure: I'm a hand tool nut, and I've cut some absurdly large mortises with hand tools (I think the largest was 3/4"W x 10"L x 2"D, and it sucked), and if I had space for it I'd buy a hollow chisel mortise machine.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-30-2015, 10:15 PM
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The easiest way is my chain mortiser and my 5 head tenoner. I can spit out 100's of joints a day, all identical.
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-07-2015, 03:45 AM
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[QUOTE=
If you don't care about speed, a good set of chisels and a mallet can work quite well. Douglas Fir is, in my limited experience, kind of a nightmare to mortise by hand, but it can be done.

I've come to rather dislike the "drill out most of it, then clean up with chisels" option, because I always end up making my mortises too big. I'd rather do the whole job by hand, or by machine.



Me too. My mortises start out fine, but at the end, sometimes I'm a butcher. Extremely sharp chiles help, but I need alot more practice I guess.
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-07-2015, 09:03 AM
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I've actually had better luck in red oak than in douglas fir... the main issue for me is that douglas fir is kind of stringy, for lack of a better word. Cleaning the ends after it's been drilled out is relatively easy, but cleaning up the sides leads to a lot of trouble. I'd rather just cut the whole thing with a chisel, and at least for large mortises, I'd rather use a mortising machine, if I had one.
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-07-2015, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarnerConstInc. View Post
The easiest way is my chain mortiser and my 5 head tenoner. I can spit out 100's of joints a day, all identical.
Good for you!! This doesn't help him, tho.....
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