I am in the process of building some bedroom furniture. The style is
made up of mortise and tenon frames with 1/4" (really 5.2mm, damn
plywood manufacturers) plywood panels. I have completed one piece so
far and found it was a lot of trial and error to get perfectly flush
mortise and tenon joints and I ended up with sloppy panels due to 1/4
slots and 5.2mm ply. I cut the last ones using my router and a 1/4 bit.
Since that time I bought a 5.2mm slot cutter and straight bit, that I
would like to use to make the mortises. I figure I already need a 5.2mm
slot all the way around the inside for the ply I might as well just cut
it a bit deeper at the ends it will allow for completely hidden yet
fairly easy mortises.
One additional note given that my wood is all from rough and home
prepped thus it is not truly 3/4". It is all the same just not 3/4"
So to get back to the real questions.
1. Is a 5.2mm (roughly 7/32") tenon enough? can't really imagine it not
being enough but figured I would get your opinions.
2. More importantly, what methods do you all use to get the depth of
your tenon to mate the mortise properly.
3. If you use a Tablesaw jig do you have any recomendations for a shop
built type, SWMBO just let me buy a used PM66 not likely to go for a
$100+ tenon jig.
4. I did recently buy a rabbetting bit for my router. Any good ideas on
using it for the tenons.
1. That is a slightly undersized tenon but I wouldn't worry about it.
In case work, like end tables, derssers, etc, you aren't going to get
the kind of work stress you would in a chair or entry door.
2. Just cut the tenon short, end grain gluing adds no real strength. In
your case, just make sure you stop the combo panel slot/mortise so it
doesn't run out the end of the stiles. You'll have to plunge it on the
router table to get it started but no big deal. Having tight face to
face grain on the tenon to slot mating will give you all the strength
you need. Also, I prefer to run the stiles long and the rails wide and
worry about getting the interior of the frame square and to the right
dimension, then trim the framed panel down to size.
3. Since you have such a nice saw, just get some MDF and a few bolts
and build a dado sled. I'll actually have a nice design for one for
myself in a few days, it's just in my head righht now. You can do you
tenons laying flat on the sled for the face cuts and on edge for the
4.I prefer setting up the TS for precision work. The router is just not
as consistent. This may just be me but I've tried bot a lot and only
use the TS for anything that matters. Although I'll get my Leigh M&T
eventually, or maybe even a MultiRouter.
What material and finish are you using?
Yes but still easier is to cut the croves for the panel with you TS. You
can easily center the grove and make it fit exactly.
Um, Cut it the same length as the depth of the mortise. For framed panels I
typically let the grove for the panel also run to the ends of the boards and
also become the mortise so to speak. Then I cut the tenons to fit into that
slot on the ends of the stiles. You do see the tennon at the ends of the
stiles but with a perfect fit it looks fine ans shows off the joint.
I use no jig at all. I cut the tenons on the router table with a straight
I typically use a mortising bit to cut the tenons at the router table.
NOW WITH THAT SAID, you mentioned that not all you stock is exactly the same
thickness. Cutting the slots, tenons, and mortises will be a real PIA
unless all of your stock is exactly the same thickness.
Just a few additional comments and clarifications.
1. The wood is all the same thickness. All I was getting at was that it
was not exactly 3/4" thick, it could be .72".
2. What I meant by depth of the tenon was not the length but the amount
of wood cut from the surface to the cheek. I want to make sure that the
distance from the surface to the edge of the mortise is the same as it
is from the surface to the cheek. This should give me a smooth flush
joint. Only one side of the frame and panel is visible so I just need
to get one side to look flush. Hopefully this makes more sense.
Again if you use the TS blade to rip down very close to the middle of the
rails and stiles for the panel to fit into and then turn the board around
and rip again it guarantees that the slot for the panel will be in the exact
middle of the board. Tweak the fence setting so that the slot is wide
enough for the panel to fit into. For cabinet doors and panels I typically
make that slot 1/2" deep.
Then at the router table cut the tenons at the ends of the rail ends with a
dado/straight bit to the depth of the slot on both sides This also
guarantees that the tenon is centered.
Yes, it is enough tenon. Go for good fit between your mortise and tenon and
that's what is most important.
Careful measurement. There's no substitute for this. You don't have to go
to extreems and use a mirometer on these things, but good old fashioned care
is a must.
I don't have a jig so I can't talk about them. You really don't need a jig
though. Make all of your cuts on the table saw being careful to cut
precisely. Do all of your shoulder cuts at the same time, then your cheek
cuts all at the same time. I generally just use my table saw to nibble away
at the tenon instead of using a jig or a dado blade, or a router. It really
does not take that long to do it and then I hit it a lick with a chisel to
smooth it all out afterwards. The only reason I do that is because I'm
right there and I don't have to set up another tool. If I did decide to use
another tool, I'd probably use my router. I started out doing tennons this
way before I ever had a router, and sometimes old habits just stick.
Yeah - use it. It'll work just fine on the tenons. Again, just measure
carefully, set yourself up a block on your router fence to establish your
deepest cut, and then run it through using your miter.
The best part is that if you can cut a tenon and chisel a mortise, then you
can cut and chisel a good mortise and tenon. Don't rush it and pay
attention to detail.
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