How to Cut a Tenon

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How to Lay Out and Cut a Mortise....5

After you've cut the mortis in a table leg, calculate the depth of cut you need at the shoulder of your tenon and make a cross cut jig or miter saw. Learn the whole process from this free video of professional home help tips.

Part of the Video Series: Home Remodeling Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name's Chris Palmer. Today, we're going to show you how to cut a tenon. Once you have your mortis cut in your leg, it's time to cut your tenon. This is the kind of connection we're going for. My mortis is a half inch, with a half inch left of wood on either side of it. So, I want to lay out my tenon, half inch thick. And, the shoulder of the tenon is going to cover up any of the rough cuts I made on my mortis. Going to leave a shoulder on the bottom here, too. The top will be flush with the top of the tenon. So, once your stock is square and size appropriately, you lay out the thickness of your tenon, and calculate how deep of a cut you want to make at the shoulder of the tenon. These are going to be made in the cross cut jig on the table saw. You can also do them by hand, you can also do them on a miter saw. Once I know the depth of my cut, I raise my blade to exactly that height. Make my cross cuts, and the cut across the bottom. And then, I come back on the band saw, and slice the cheeks of my tenon. At that point, the tenon is really close to being fit. Oftentimes, there's a little bit of fine tuning with a hand plane, or even some sandpaper. I want my tenon to be about nine 16ths deep. So, what I'm going to do is measure from the work side of my blade to a stop that I'm going to screw right to my cross cut sled. Just tack it in there temporarily. And now, I can index my work piece right up against that. And, time to make the cuts. Wear your safety glasses, and hearing protection. Now, I have my shoulder cuts made on my tenon, on the three sides. Next, we make the cheat cuts, where we remove this material. You can do that with a handsaw, you can do it on a table saw by standing up the work piece vertically, helps to have a jig for that. I'm going to do it on the band saw. Here we go. To fine tune your tenon, you can use a shoulder plane, and just shave off a little bit as you go. A little bit of sandpaper will take care of any tear out issues you have, and clean up the final face of the tenon. Once you have it sized properly, go ahead and dry fit it. It should slide together pretty easily, but it's tight enough that it stays put without any glue. Couple gentle taps with your hammer if you need it. And, once you're satisfied with the fit, all your joints are tight, you want to apply glue to all the cheeks of the tenon, and even put a little bit inside the mortis. You need to clamp this joint under pressure while the glue dries. So, have your clamps and cauls, or whatever else you want handy. And, that is a really strong joint. Thanks for watching. My name is Chris Palmer. That's how you cut a tenon.


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