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My current project is a simple pair of hanging wall shelves, one made of poplar (practice) and one made of QS White Oak. The goal was to step out of my comfort zone of pocket screws and try some new joinery techniques. The shelves are joined together with keyed mortise and tenon joints. While I was chiseling out the through mortise for the key, I split one of my tenons! The split doesn't open up very much, but I think it will fail it the key gets tapped in too hard.


How do I fix this?


Can it be fixed?



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I don't know it this fix will work, but here it is:


You want to get glue all through the crack. Put your shop vac hose underneath the crack, and 'feed' your glue from the top. The vacuum should help draw the glue through the crack.


After ensuring the glue penetrated to your satisfaction, clamp the crack (top and bottom first) then laterally.


Hopefully someone will chime in with a better idea.

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Tap the key into the mortise, just enough for the crack to open up a little bit. Squeeze some glue into the crack and work it in with your finger. Remove the key and clamp the tenon to close the crack until glue is dry. Wipe away squeeze-out with damp rag, especially on the inside.

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You could cut a groove across the bottom of the cracked morticed board and glue a strip of wood in to reinforce the board from cracking again. I would glue it first, let it dry, clean it up and then add the strip .

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I've had this happen before as well.  I opened up the crack just enough to see daylight, forced some glue in by finger and took some compressed air (very low pressure; maybe 5psi) and used that to blow the glue deeper into the crack.  Repeat a few times and clamped.  The split disappeared and never came back to haunt me :P....


Good luck!

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Thanks for all the great ideas! Here is how the fix went tonight:


I tapped the key in to try to open the crack a bit...and this must have put too much stress on the other side of the mortise because another crack started opening! I just gave it a couple whacks to blow out the end, then I applied glue to the sides of the broken piece and slipped it back in. One crack disappeared, but the line is still visible on the other end. I'm hoping a little sanding will make that one disappear too.



How far is that mortise from the end of the wood? I think with enough force tapping the keys into place it might break the end grain again. 


Here is the size and placement of the mortise.


I think I could probably blow them all out with enough force or a BIG hammer. This is my first attempt at keyed tenons so pretty much all of this project has been trial and error. Hoping to work out all the bugs on the poplar shelf before I do the QS white oak one.


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