It’s a well-known fact that a mortise-and-tenon joint is the strongest woodworking joint (if it’s made correctly). On the web, there have been lengthy discussions about loose-tenon construction , creating mortises in the two mating pieces then installing a single loose tenon that fills both mortises.
With an improvement to the Beadlock system, a jig that’s been around since 2000, Rockler added to the discussion. The Beadlock, either the original or the Beadlock Pro, does not require expensive investments in tooling because mortises are created by simply drilling a series of overlapping holes, guided by a jig.
The Beadlock system is very easy to use. Clamp the jig in position, slide the guide block to one side of the jig, then drill holes. Next, slide the guide block to the opposite side of the jig and again, drill holes. That’s it. You’ve created a mortise. The jig comes standard with a 3/8″ guide block. With additional interchangeable guide blocks, you can also create mortises that are 1/4″ and 1/2″ wide.
You can purchase router bits designed to produce tenon stock or purchase pre-made tenon stock, which has a matching profile, to complete the joint. Matching pre-made tenon stock is available in pre-cut lengths or in 12″ pieces that you cut to size. The result is a strong, totally concealed joint with plenty of glue surface.
The Beadlock Pro is the newest evolution of this jig. With it you can create mortises in material up to 3-1/2″ wide by adjusting the guide-block frame along the rails of the jig. In addition, the Beadlock Pro has a block that is used to create traditional smooth-sided mortises. After using a drilling-guide block to excavate waste, change to the paring block, then use your chisels to pare a smooth side. The guide keeps the chisels in place and positioned correctly. You can then cut your own flat tenon stock.
The Beadlock Pro includes the fully adjustable jig (as shown in the photo above), a 3/8″ drill bit, a matching stop collar, a Beadlock 3/8″ guide block and the matching paring block. All the contents are fit into a molded case that includes storage areas for any 1/4″ and 1/2″ optional equipment (drilling guides or paring guides) that is sold separately.
If you’re just discovering the mortise-and-tenon joint or are looking for simple and quick method to create this solid joint, check out the Beadlock (street price at $30) and the Beadlock Pro (street priced at $120) available at Rockler stores and Rockler.com.
If you’ve used either version of Beadlock, leave a comment to let us know what you think.