Graphical Construction Glossary >> Woodwork. >> Joints >> Mortise and Tenon

Mortise And Tenon
A method of joining two members, with a recess, the Mortise in one of the members and a narrowed shouldered piece the Tenon to the other one.

a basic mortise and tennon joint

Above is a very basic mortise/tenon joint.

  1. The main thing about this joint is that the tenon should be one third of the thickness of the timber. This is a general rule as the available mortise tools come in standard sizes, i.e 5/8", 1/2", 3/8".
    1. The tenon can be cut by hand with a medium sized back saw, a tenon saw in fact.
    2. In large workshops there are many types of tenoning machine available.
    3. They can also be cut a dado head on radial arm saw or a bench saw.
  2. The mortise is cut out by a variety of means.
    1. By hand with a mortise chisel. Sometimes with the aid of boring a series holes to make the chiseling easier.
    2. There are some mortise machines that use a slot bit, that cuts the mortise holes leaving a half round at each end.
    3. Other mortisers are either chain or hollow square chisel.
tenon shoulders

The basic joint is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these joints and the inventiveness of the people who design them. Above is a sketch that shows the effect of rebates on the design of the joints and the position of the shoulders of the tenons. The difference in the length of the shoulders is of coures the depth of the rebate.

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