Perhaps I’m the oddball here, but I’ve always found cutting tenons by hand to be more challenging than any sort of dovetailing.
Tenons require a lot of precision sawing if you want to avoid farting around with a shoulder plane, chisel or float. And teaching others to cut perfect shoulders is a challenge. I usually show them Robert Wearing’s trick called a “first-class sawcut.” Basically, you create a quick V-groove at the shoulder line and drop the saw into that.
It works great, but you still have to keep the saw vertical. And you have to keep it from jumping out of the kerf and marring your work.
Today I was cutting some tenons and was clamping my work down to my bench hook to hold it immobile while I focused on cutting the 4-1/2″-long shoulders. Like always, I clamped a piece of waste between my hold-down and my work to keep the hold-down from marring the walnut.
I looked at the waste. Its straight edge whispered: “Use me, Seymour.”
I shifted the waste right onto my shoulder line and clamped down the waste. I picked up my flush-cutting saw and used the waste as a fence to guide the saw , just like I do when I cut the walls of dados.
It worked brilliantly, even without a chiseled v-groove. This tenon shoulder won’t need any work.
If you struggle cutting long shoulders, it’s worth trying.
– Christopher Schwarz