Does anyone out there have advice to give on cutting tenons on the
ends of 4x4 cedar stock? I am planning to build a arbor/swing bench
and the plans call for mortise and tenon joinery. The weight and the
length of some of the beams raises doubts that I will be able to
support the stock through the table saw at the correct angle. Any
thoughts would be appreciated.
Here is a situation where routing the tenon might be the easiest and
safest. You will need to make a jig and use one of those deep cutting bits.
Make cuts a shallow depth at a time. Practice on a piece of scrap of the
same material and size before going at the good stuff. Or, you could use a
circular saw and make a serious of cuts and then clean off with a chisel. Of
course, a carefully manipulated hand saw would work too but would require
some skill keeping the cuts square. I've used the circular saw method when
I built a small timber frame based building behind my garage.
I did something similar for a railing on my deck. The top rail was a long 4
x 4 butt joined to other 4 x 4's at 45 degree angles forming
a ---------\_______ type shape. I made a jig that allowed me to cut two 1/2"
wide slots in the end grain with a router to allow loose tennons to be glued
into the ends. It worked well.
Where the railing was supported by posts, I cut tennons on the end of the 4
x 4 posts on a radial arm saw - quite simple if you have one. The receiving
mortises were cut in the rails before gluing on a mortise cutter.
On 30 Jul 2004 04:31:58 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (mnterpfan) wrote:
Just do it. You're not making furniture here.
Assuming you don't have a RAS or sliding crosscut with a depth stop,
then the usual way of doing these is a handheld circular saw, slicing
the waste into 3/8" wide cross-grain strips, then breaking them off
with a 2" wide chisel. It's crude work, but what the hell, it isn't
You_will_ need a couple of big "pigsticker" mortise chisels, a slick
(big wide chisel, with a big long handle, used for paring surfaces
Another useful tool, if you're using treenails, are a couple of
drawbore pins - big steel pins with a handle and a tapered point, used
for temporary holding of joints. Hard to find, but easily made.
Not a problem to rout, shoulders up to 9/16" possible without heroics.
See pix link:
Jig, as designed, will not accept 16/4 stock, but design can be
adjusted to hold any section.
More at the http://www.patwarner.com/tenonmaker.html link.
On Fri, 30 Jul 2004 04:31:58 -0700, mnterpfan wrote:
I posted these before and got a few "weak kneed" comments, but it works
great on the RAS. You need to make an aux table with built in fence(which
is hidden by the stock) and support the other end at the same height.
These were for a table and the stock is 6' long.
We do this routinely in timber framing. Typically done with a 16" Makita
skill saw. On smaller stock you can use a smaller saw. Cut the shoulders
first, then cut the cheeks from the end. On a 4x4, I'd probably just use
the hand saw.
Thanks everybody for the suggestions. I was leaning toward the router
and/or the circular saw and chisel method. I was interested to see if
anybody thought that there was a safe way to do it on the table saw.
The magazine (Woodworkers Journal June 2004) says "step to the table
saw..." like its that easy. I suppose a pretty good sled and large
extension table would help.
I appreciate the feedback.
If you use a *real* table saw, it's easy: A carpenter close to my home
has a nice one, where the croscut sled is about two meters long
(i.e. it supports the stock up to a distance of two meters from the
saw blade), so sawing at the ends of beam several meters long is not a
But for anyone with limited nudget (and space...) i would recomend a
ryoba saw, whose distinct crosscut and rip sides come extremely handy
when cutting tenons.
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