On Fri, 02 Jan 2004 09:37:55 -0500, Greg G. wrote:
<SNIP> But apparently, although integral
I use loose tenons a great deal for several reasons not least of which
is I find it much faster than classic tenon joinery. I think one
should be very careful about using a different material for the tenons
than is used in the pieces being joined. This can lead to problems of
unequal expansion/contraction characteristics thereby weakening joint
It is a valid technique that I suspect he wanted to demonstrate on the
program(you can't do every project in the same way or you will bore your
audience) and it is easier than a regular mortise and tenon joint.
And then there is that old thing of doing something just because you
Doug Stowe Author of: Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide to Box Making
Contributing Editor, Woodwork, A Magazine for All Woodworkers
If you have a mortising machine, you need never make tenons again
unless you want through tenons.
Yeah, there's that, too.
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On Fri, 02 Jan 2004 21:27:46 GMT, Larry Jaques
Why can't you have thru tenons? Seems to me you can just glue the
loose tenon in one piece and then just treat it as a regular tenon for
purposes of thru tenoning. You'll have to be careful to cut the
through mortise from the exposed side towards the joint side in case
of some tearout.
I suppose that's possible, too. Point taken.
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One reason for a loose tenon, especially in projects in projects with lots
of them, is the tenon's can be made of less expensive secondary wood.
You make it by cutting two mortices, not a mortice and tenon. If your
workshop is tooled up to cut mortices (maybe a router and jig) then
this is easier.
The tenon may be stronger timber.
M&T joints are weakest (if well designed) across the neck of the
tenon. A long-grain joint along the sides of a loose tenon should be
You can use the "beadlock" system with loose tenons, where the
mortices are routed and left with their rounded corners. The matching
loose tenons are commercial items, which is a clever marketing idea.
Long sliding dovetails are hard to make accurately, and they really do
need a router. This might be a consideration for a wide-audience TV
I can't see Chinese joinery making good TV. It's complex to do, but
it's hard to understand by looking at it (so much is hidden when
assembled) and most of the skill to it is doing a simple task very,
very well, rather than some exciting new gadget that you can easily
Always remember that the function of woodworking TV is to make TV, not
to make furniture.
Congrats to STBL on his elevation from TLA to ETLA
I've often wondered about Marks' choices of joinery too. I think what it
comes down to is there is no "right" method and on his show he is
demonstrating a variety of methods. It always irritates me when he uses
that multi router, because, well, I wish I had one. :-)
As far as mortise and loose tenons, I like to think about them as "super"
biscuits. And biscuit joinery itself, based on breakage testing, is
I watched that bookcase episode too, and I agree that blind sliding
dovetails would have worked also, but probably no better than his mortise
and loose tenoning.
Then again, in this particular show, he did not use the multi-router.
Instead, he did all the mortice and loose tenon work with a plunge router,
something we can get at reasonable cost.
Whether loose or integral, holding the static weight of books is not too
great a challenge for either of these joints. Loose tenons are easier. You
cut the stock to exactly the size of the shelf width. You don't have to
worry about uneven shoulders because you only cut mortices.
A valid choice. I can cut mortices without power tools, but I don't have a
convenient way to cut a sliding dovetail. I think I've seen a specialty
hand plane for that, but it seems like a lot of work for little added
benefit. The shelves I recently built for SWMBO, I used a blind dados.
They don't appear to be falling apart.
Marks really like loose tenons. Guess that's reason enough. The purpose of
joinery is to bind two boards together in a manner strong enough for the
intended use. In this regard, he succeeds admirably.
Of course, in my opinion, those bookshelves are ugly. They look top heavy.
I like a lot of his stuff, but my other gripe about his projects is often
the colors just don't work for me. The colors often clash. Contrast is
fine, but if the tones clash, the result is ugly. I recently finished some
laminated bread knives, made as Christmas presents. In one combination, I
used Padauk and Red Oak. The red tones of the Red Oak made it a good
contrast to the red Padauk. I I had instead used White Oak, I believe the
brown tones in the White Oak would have clashed with the Padauk.
You've heard that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks
like a nail.
I guess that if you've got a Multi-Router, every joinery solution looks
like a loose tenon. :-)
Seriously though, I'd have to say that most craftsmen we think of as
"masters" have picked a technique, mastered it, and adapt their designs
to the methods they know best. David Marks is no exception.
Thanks for all the replies. It is apparent that there is no one
proper technique in this situation, simply a matter of using one that
you like and are comfortable doing. Someone pointed out that the
loose tenons illustrated are similar to using biscuits. I've done
that, the project hasn't falled apart, so strength isn't the issue.
Replies in another forum also pointed out the problem of project size
in some cases and another problem of grain direction in others as
cases of a loose tenon being a better choice than integral.
I assumed David had gotten used to the technique from that multi
router he's got. It's really no problem, it's working for him. He's
adapted it to other projects.
Of course my own liking of sliding dovetails requires it's own special
machine, a Leigh jig. I suppose that relatively speaking not so many
own one of those.
Again thanks for all the informative well thought out replies.
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