These jigs help you hand cut flawless mortise-and-tenon joints.
By Jeff Miller
Mortise-and-tenon joints tend to frustrate woodworkers far more than dovetails do. That’s no mystery; they are genuinely harder to cut than dovetails. The large flat tenon cheeks and mortise walls need to be flat, smooth and parallel, the shoulders have to line up perfectly all the way around the tenon, and to get a fit that works, the tolerances are within a couple of thousandths of an inch.
About a year ago, I started fooling around with an idea to make hand-cut mortise-and-tenon joints a little easier. I came up with a pair of simple jigs that make it possible to cut – in conjunction with a good tenon saw and some mortise and paring chisels – accurate, repeatable joints by hand that rival those cut by machine. The jigs cut down on layout as well. And they make it easy to cut angled tenons. The final bonus is that the tenoning jig can actually help improve your saw technique.
Video: Watch the author demonstrate his tenon jig.
Video: Watch the author demonstrate his mortise-paring jig.
In Our Store: “Sawing Fundamentals,” by Christopher Schwarz
Web site: Visit Jeff Miller’s web site for a list of classes he teaches.
Article: Read our story on how best to apply glue to a mortise-and-tenon joint. Read more
This ancient mortise-and-tenon joinery technique needs no glue, no clamps.
by Jennie Alexander & Peter Follansbee
The excerpt that follows is adapted from “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” a new book by Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee (Lost Art Press). While the book teaches you start to finish how to make a joint stool, many of the techniques you’ll learn therein are applicable in the modern shop – perhaps none so much as drawboring.
Drawboring is a method used in 17th-century joinery that is still valid today. That a mortise-and-tenon joint can be permanently secured with no glue and no clamps is hard for some modern woodworkers to swallow. But all it takes is some careful planning, a brace and bit, and a tapered wooden pin. Jennie Alexander and I have been very fortunate to closely study many examples of surviving woodwork from the 17th century, and have worked repeatedly to try to mimic the tool marks and techniques we saw there.
In Our Store: “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” by Jennie Alexander & Peter Follansbee
Article: “A 1600s Joiner’s Tool Kit,” by Peter Follansbee
Article: “The Best Oak Money can Buy,” by Peter Follansbee
Blog: Read “Joiner’s Notes,” Peter Follansbee’s blog. Read more
Small touches make a big difference in ‘boarded furniture.’
by Adam Cherubini
This article is part three in a series I’m doing on boarded furniture. If you are new to the series, boarded furniture is a style of case construction prevalent in early America, but largely ignored by we modern woodworkers. It is defined by the use of nails instead of dovetails or mortise-and-tenon joints. Built by part-time woodworkers or carpenters, these pieces typically reflect their builders’ lack of time, tools and deep-pocketed customers. Successfully reproducing the charm and integrity of these pieces requires us to capture the subtle details, being careful not to overdo it. In this article, I’ll finish up the little cabinet I’m making. In the process, I’ll focus on the details that make this style special.
Blog: Read Adam’s Arts & Mysteries blog.
In Our Store: “The Arts & Mysteries of Hand Tools” on CD. Read more
Simple adjustments in ratios can produce pleasing and functional results.
By George R. Walker
My wife, Barb, set a bag of groceries on the kitchen counter and said, “I saw a great work table – will you build me one?”
On the surface it sounded like a simple request, but I’ve been down this road before. She spied a trestle table in a furniture store that sparked her interest and got her thinking about what she really wanted. This was confirmed when we visited the store showroom.
After a few moments of looking it over she said, “This is exactly what you can make for me, except the top is too wide, I don’t like this breadboard end on the top, the feet need a little spice (maybe a flowing curve?) and the cross-brace thingy – can you move that down a bit so I can rest my foot on it while I’m sketching? But other than that it’s perfect!”
Blog: Read more from George about design on his Design Matters blog.
In our store: George R. Walker’s DVDs: “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings.” Read more
The key to a quick finish is the finish you choose.
By Bob Flexnor
Finishing is seldom the most enjoyable part of woodworking, so many woodworkers want to get it over with in a day – or even an afternoon. Many manufacturers encourage this with their directions, which often produce less than optimal results because they push the process too fast.
Nevertheless, there are ways to accomplish the entire finishing process (after the sanding) within a day or less. Here’s how.
Article: Read Bob Flexner’s article on paint strippers from the April 2012 issue.
In our store: “Flexner on Finishing” – 12 years of updated columns illustrated with beautiful full-color images.
To buy: Get Bob Flexner’s new book, “Wood Finishing 101.” Read more
Ease and speed, versus idealization of the past – sometimes.
by Alan Foljambe
From the June 2012 issue, #197
When Lord Acton wrote that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he was referring to politics, but he could as easily have been referring to tools. After all, he wrote this now-famous phrase in the spring of 1887, one year after Karl Benz patented his first internal combustion engine, and only six months after the death of that great machine hater, William Morris. The world was accelerating in the late 19th century, propelled forward by coal and the beginnings of the oil age. It hasn’t slowed down since.
Articles: Click below for more “End Grain” articles.
Almost a Plane Wreck.pdf (185.08 KB)
Barn of the Damned.pdf (85.54 KB)
Sawdust in the Soup.pdf (156.69 KB)
My New Apprentice.pdf (101.01 KB) Read more