Better mortise and tenon solution


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I posted another topic on the power tool section but didn't get many responses so maybe I will redirect my question and see what happens. I am looking for a better way to make mortise and tenon joints. Right now I use a hollow chisel mortiser and a few other power tools to make the tenons. My process is slow and tedious with too much set up time and not great results. So I'm wondering what is your method to form the joint? What tools do you use?

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If I have a lot, like more than 4, I use a homemade mortising jig for making the mortises and loose, or floating tenons.

Here is a post I started about the jig.

Check out some of the links in the post too. There is one slot mortiser that I may attempt to build one day.

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I use a couple of different ones:

If I need to do some production work, I use a table saw and dado blade for the tenons and a router table for the mortises. I feel as though I have more control with a router table then a plunge router.

If I'm only doing one or two, or a strange joint, I cut them by hand. I use a ryoba or dozuki saw for the tenons. I might use a router or drill press to hog out most of the material in the mortise, but then I clean it up with chisel.

Jonathan

=============================

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I'm wondering why it is that you are finding it slow and not getting very good results using a hollow chisel mortice machine?

Until three years ago I didn't own a single machine and cut thousands of mortice and tenon joints by hand over the years. Now I have a forty year old industrial mortice machine and a 600mm x 450mm industrial bandsaw to cut the tenons. I reckon to save at least fifty percent of the time it used to take. Having said that, if I only have one or two mortices to make and they are less than 1/2" x 2" x no more than 2" deep I'll do them by hand, unless the machine is already set up for 1/2"

Although I set out the mortices and tenons at the same time I always cut the mortices first, then cut the tenons just outside the scribe lines and trim in gentle stages to obtain a good tight light tap with the mallet fit. On very rare occasions I'll maybe have to trim the shoulders as well, and that's it.

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Although I set out the mortices and tenons at the same time I always cut the mortices first, then cut the tenons just outside the scribe lines and trim in gentle stages to obtain a good tight light tap with the mallet fit. On very rare occasions I'll maybe have to trim the shoulders as well, and that's it.

That's what I'm looking to do I guess I just have a hard time doing that. Do you use a fence on the band saw and adjust it slowly to achieve that fit or all by freehand? How do you cut the shoulders to get them nice all the way around?

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Although I set out the mortices and tenons at the same time I always cut the mortices first, then cut the tenons just outside the scribe lines and trim in gentle stages to obtain a good tight light tap with the mallet fit. On very rare occasions I'll maybe have to trim the shoulders as well, and that's it.

That's what I'm looking to do I guess I just have a hard time doing that. Do you use a fence on the band saw and adjust it slowly to achieve that fit or all by freehand? How do you cut the shoulders to get them nice all the way around?

Yes I have a six inch high x one and a quarter inch cast iron fence that is fortunately rock solid. Irip down the tenons first to almost to the shoulder line then I have a sliding mitre fence to cut the shoulders. By taking my time and being careful It's works a dream. However, I spent a long time perfecting the original set up to be certain my bandsaw cuts absolutely plumb and the mitre fence runs smoothly and accurately. Once they are cut out I use a shoulder plane to gently trim the tenons to fit. As I said more than 90% of the time the shoulders fit first time. I can't say whether this is just pure luck or due to the original tweaking of everything until it worked perfectly.

I really could not say how many mortice and tenon joint I've done this way but it is a lot. I must add that I regularly change the blade Which is invariably a 1" 4 skip tooth blade.

Incidentally I use the flutter method to adjust the tension.

Pete

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I use a hollow chisel mortise machine for the mortises and a very light cleanup, mainly on the bottoms, with a chisel.

I cut the tenons on my tablesaw using a tenon jig for the cheeks and a sled with stop block for the shoulders. I also have spacers that are tuned to be a saw kerf thicker than the width of the chisels. I set up the tenon jig to cut the inside cheek first, then insert the spacer to cut the outside cheek. Once I tuned up the spacers, I get consistently accurate tenon thicknesses to match each of the chisels.

I also found that a rip blade does a much better job cutting the cheeks without burning than a combo blade.

PS - I use a similar technique for making 1/2 lap joints. In this case I use a spacer that is the same thickness as the kerf.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use a hollow chisel morticer for my mortices. I always cut them first. I then set the fence on my bandsaw for the thickness of the tennon. That way I cut one side, flip it over and then all I need to do is cut the shoulders. Once I've call all my tenons I can remove the fence and put on a 90° fence and cut all my shoulders.

This method is quick and easy if you have a well set up bandsaw.

Also a quick way to check your tenons will fit perfect is to set your fence and mark you timber with the bandsaw, then lay the mortice timber along the tennon timber and look down checking the mark lines up with your tenon before commit to the full cut. I use this method at work when I'm making a half dozen windows (like today) and for doors.

Safer than using a dimension saw imo.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When you use the dado blade, do you then finesse the fit with a shoulder plane?

If i can't get the height setup just perfect i err on the side of a fat tenon and finesse it with a plane. If you don't have a shoulder plane. You can use a block plane to fit the majority of the tenon and then clean up by the shoulder with your largest chisel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use a Mortise Pal, and use 1/4", 3/8", or 1/2" floating tenons that I make from other hardwood stock ( usually scrap from another project). I find the center line layout and location of the mortises easier, the setup of the jig very straightforward, and the results consistant. Since the shoulders are cut as the ends of the pieces, and the tenon stock is already sized to fit the mortises, fitting is no issue.

On the occasions that I need to make through mortises, I use a benchtop mortising machine. Using the loose tenon stock, I adjust the tenon thickness to fit the mortise, and again do not have an issue with the shoulders. Hope this is of help.

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  • 2 months later...

i borrowed a domino from a friend the other day cuz i had 46 m&t joints to make. WOW what a machine! I used to think this was another over price trendy machine. Absolutely not easy to work, and set up. I was in his shop for 1 1/2 hours. 1/2 hour tutorial, 40 min of work, then 20 min of bsing and catching up. biggest time saving machine on the market. As easy to use as a biscuit jointer, but with a true structurally sound joint. great machine and ill be calling him anytime i need to make a m&t until i can afford my own. about a grand to truely get set up right with the domino machine and a case of dominos

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yet another opinion....

I built a mortising jig that I can use for integral or loose tenon joinery using a plunge router. If I am doing integral tenons, I do those on the table saw with dado blade. Finesse the fit with a Veritas shoulder plane. For loose tenon, I pre-milled a bunch of 1/4" and 3/8" tenon material to match the spiral up-cut bits so ready to go...

Bought one of those tenoning jigs for the table saw and used it once -- decided dado blade much easier. Waiting to sell it at a woodworking flea market some day...

Have considered mortising machines but after using one in classes I have taken, I decided that I would have to spend for top of the line tool as cheaper tools might be more trouble than they are worth.

Ultimate if I had the budget and space would be a multirouter

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  • 4 weeks later...

Coming in late to this one - but I have 3 questions.

For the record, there is a very good reason factory-made furniture seldom uses integral M&T joinery - there really are no short cuts.

My "quickest" method is to use a dado blade at the tablesaw for the tenons and a router for the mortises. that's for a traditional mortise and tenon joint. If speed is your thing, take a look at the Domino. smile.gif

In this article: http://www.djmarks.com/stories/djm/loose_tenon_joinery_90627.asp, David Marks states that he finds the process of loose tenon joinery faster than the setup and adjustment of the tablesaw/dado blade approach and that strength has never been an issue. Everyone's process differs, but what are thoughts on this compared to integral tenons for strength? And for speed (not counting the domino)?

This thread, it's claimed that since the long-grain sides are the strength of the mortise & tenon joint, that the tenon not need be the full width of a routed mortise, and loose tenon stock be cut and left square instead of rounding the edges - Thoughts?

http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?98482-Loose-Tenon-Stock

Lastly - I've seen several posts about the stock used for loose tenons, but nothing specific on if species of wood matters. Biscuits are used in all types of projects, I don't know if domino tenons come in various species, and that many just use the scraps, not specifically cut-offs from the current project. Does it matter if you're using, for example, poplar tenons in a walnut project?

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The number of M&T joints that I've ever made is probably less than fifty, so I'm not speaking from a lot of experience. But ...

I agree with Marks's opinion that floating tenon joints are both faster to make, and strong enough. It's pretty much a given these days that a glued joint is going to be stronger than the surrounding wood, so it stands to reason that a floating tenon glued into a mortise would be every bit as strong as an integral tenon.

Again by the glue-is-stronger-than-wood argument, I would say that you don't compromise strength very much (if at all) with square-edged tenons in round-edged mortises. But here, strength isn't the only consideration. Besides providing strength, the tenon establishes the alignment of the joint. So if you have too much slop, the parts being joined may not line up properly unless you're extra careful when you assemble them. For this reason, I like to cut my floating tenons just a tiny bit wide, so that their corners dig into the rounded edges of the mortises just a little bit. That helps keep all the parts where they should be when it's time for the glue and the clamps.

For tenon material, it seems like strength and availability are the two main considerations. I don't see any reason to worry about it much beyond that.

-- Russ

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what are thoughts on this compared to integral tenons for strength?

In a perfect world, loose tenons are every bit as strong as traditional mortise and tenon. However, I've seen several examples of broken loose tenon joints that wouldn't have happened if it were integral tenon. Small parts are compromised by mortising, and if you aren't careful with your dimensions and allowances hydraulic pressure will blow out the sides of thin walled mortises.

In my opinion loose tenon joinery is only suitable for angled joints, where an angled tenon would consist of weak short grain.

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