The Tenon Joint - How to Make a Mortise and Tenon Joint

Summary: Find out how to make a Mortise and Tenon joint in this project. Learn what are mortises and tenons and how you can make them to form a strong timber joint. Learn the processes and techniques that you need to make a lasting tenon joint.

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For our entire timber joints section we are very grateful to for allowing the use of their material. All images and text are  © V. Ryan  2002

The tenon part of a mortice and tenon joint is marked out and cut with the same tools as are used for the mortice part of the joint. See timber joints 1.Marking out a mortice

Marking out a mortice

The mortice chisel is carefully selected. It should be the same width as the mortice to be cut into the wood. The fixed spur and the adjustable spur of the gauge are set to the width of the chisel.

Marking out a mortice

The width of the tenon is marked all the way round the wood. Normally a marking knife is used to produce a precise line, with the aid of a try square. A pencil can then be used make the line stand out.

Marking out a mortice

The mortice gauge is used to mark the size of the tenon. The stock of the marking gauge must be held firmly against the side of the wood as it will have a tendency to follow the grain of the wood rather than a straight line.

Marking out a mortice

A tenon saw is used to saw down the gauged lines of the tenon. The wood is normally held firmly in a woodworkers vice. When sawing, take time to check that the saw is cutting straight down and that it is on the waste wood side of the tenon.

Marking out a morticeThe wood is then supported by a bench hook and a tenon saw is used to finally remove the waste wood. This leaves the shoulder of the joint.

Marking out a morticeA firmer or bevel edged chisel can be used to remove rough edges and to straighten the tenon. The wood must always be held in a woodworking vice as a chisel my slip if the wood moves. If the marking out and cutting have been carried out accurately the mortice and tenon should fit together forming a firm joint.


Then visit our other four timber joint projects:

Timber Joints 1 - Halved Joints
Timber Joints 2 - The Tenon
Timber Joints 3 - Dovetail Joints
Timber Joints 4 - Finger Or Comb Joint
Timber Joints 5 - Shoulder / Rebate / Lapped Joint

You might like to go to our video section on carpentry to watch a video on how to cut a mortise and tenon joint.

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

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