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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.



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