In Techniques

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

If you ever needed
more evidence that woodworkers have always been a parsimonious lot, look
no further than the December 1901 issue of the British magazine The Woodworker.

In an article on wedging tenons the author offers the above illustration with the comment:

21 shows how to cut the wedges from the waste wood in the haunchings in
such work as panel doors, sashes, &c., thus economising both time
and material.

Next up: How to effectively remove splinters so they can be reused as toothpicks.

— Christopher Schwarz

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts
Showing 9 comments
  • Gerry Milton

    Where does one come up with these words. Woodworkers having google to learn the definition of a word is counterproductive.

  • Steve S.

    The "economizing time" part sounds funny to us now, but when getting paid based on piecework, every minute counts. The real advantage, of course, is the near-perfect grain matching that would result. I’ve been known to cut wedges from project offcuts, but I never thought to cut them out of the tenon waste. I’m going to give this one a try.

  • Eric R

    Good use for the waste wood in my book.

  • Alfred Kraemer

    Why not think of it as an exercise of using a dovetail saw -that’s what I thought when I saw the picture before reading the text – with a little tangible ‘outcome’.


  • Bob Rozaieski

    Not cheap, ingenious. Cut them from the haunchings and you have wedges that are already the perfect thickness for their mating tenon. No additional planing required.

  • Sean

    I think this is both cheap *and* f’ing brilliant for so many reasons. Might I add that while I’m somewhat frugal, it bugs me to no end that so many things we buy today are effectively unrepairable and hence it makes economic sense to toss the broken ones and just buy a new replacement. My dad single-handedly kept an old Kenmore washing machine going for north of 30 years courtesy of the Sears parts deparment. No way that would happen with today’s "value engineering".

  • Christopher Schwarz

    You see, I’m not as skilled as these 1901 folks. I always like to make my wedges a little over-wide so I can angle them in the tenon. This spreads the tenon in width and length so I can fill any gaps.

    This is in theory, of course. I’ve not had any gaps yet 😉

  • Jon

    Agreed — that’s a plan so cunning you could brush your teeth with it! Another advantage: no fiddling with holding itty bitty pieces steady on your bench hook to saw them free. The tenon *is* the workholding.


  • Greg

    I’m thinking you’d get a really good grain match too. Could be a disadvantage if you were looking for some contrast for visual interest.

Start typing and press Enter to search