Northern Tool + Equipment, Generators, pressure washers, air compressors, power tools, trailers, heaters, stoves, food processing, go karts, and more! You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. This above video and article will simplify the process of cutting mortise and tenon joints with only a few traditional hand tools. Because of it’s strength and many uses, the mortise and tenon joint is one of the very first woodworking joints that beginning woodworkers should learn.
To make things easier for beginners I would recommend that you simply purchase an inexpensive pre-dimensioned stick of wood (e.g.
The first step is to lay your boards out on your workbench and butt the tenon board up against the mortise board, so you can see exactly where you want them to join. Next you will mark the shoulder line. The shoulder is where the tenon will stop against the mortise. Not every board has the same thickness, so do all your marking from the same reference face to ensure the tenon will fit into the mortise. If you have multiple mortise & tenon joints to build, then you now probably realize how much time will be saved by having a dual marking gauge.

Use a bench chisel to cut out a little trench to provide your saw with a track for starting into the cut. Star the cut at a 45 degree angle, then start sawing horizontal, across the top end grain, staying a hair to the waste side of your line.
Flip your tenon piece around in the vice and saw from the other side, but in your new kerf that you just created on top of the board. This will allow your backsaw to rest against the shoulder, and will provide a more accurate guide when sawing downward.
With a little practice, you should be able to make a mortise and tenon joint in under 10 minutes! It is an effective joint for holding together timber frame buildings, tables, chairs, doors, cabinets, windows, tool chests, clocks, and many, many other pieces of wooden furniture. Even power tool woodworkers should learn the fundamentals of how to make a mortise and tenon joint with traditional hand tools! You should use a backsaw with rip teeth because  you’ll be cutting down with the grain.
Secure your tenon piece  against a bench hook (or with a hold fast or in your vice some how), and deepen your shoulder line with a wide bench chisel and wooden mallet.

Place the chisel precisely in your shoulder line (you previously created it with a marking gauge…remember?) One or two medium strokes with the mallet is deep enough. Lay the tenon on top of the mortise and decide how deep you want it to go into the mortise.
Patience with the unit and understanding you can't scream cut dense hardwoods keeps my unit going.
And I found that when making successive plunges to create a slot, the chisel will creep to the right or left while plunging.
If you look real close you will see that the fence has two protrusions, one for the slide and one for the hold down bracket. Aside from that small little hiccup I was making square holes in wood within 10 mins of unboxing.

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