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Thread: Best way to do mortise & tenons?

  1. #1
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    Question Best way to do mortise & tenons?

    I am a hobbiest and have been reading up on the best way to do mortise & tenon joints (tablesaw, router, bandsaw,loose tenons, jigs, etc) and am getting confused. How do you do them?
    Thanks
    Dennis

  2. #2
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    It depends on the time and tools you have available, Dennis. I don't know that there is a best way, just different ways. What tools do you have and what is the application of your M&T joint?

    Even if you ask this question on the Neander forum, you're going to get a variety of answers.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  3. #3
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    Dennis, Gary has asked you the correct questions.

    I make mine with a hollow chisel mortiser and a shaper.

    I also make them with a drill, chisels and a back saw.

    There are many methods of making that joint, and often the size of the pieces dictates the method.

    (You're not going to cut the tenon on the end of a 12 foot long piece of 8 X 8 using your tenon jig on a tablesaw.)

    Regards, Rod.

  4. #4
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    Gary
    I'm retired so I have the time. I have a table saw,router table,bandsaw, planer, jointer & more routers than I want my wife to know about. I'm building a library table with many M&T joints so I'd like to get them right, I consider myself a beginner. Right now I'm leaning towards a router & router table.
    Dennis

  5. #5
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    I also choose to the use the router and loose tenons, however you it wouldn't have to be loose with tenons being cut on the tablesaw. There are plans for jigs that allow you to cut mortises very accuratley with a plunge straight bit and a template guide. Google shop made mortise jigs and I think you'll have many viable choices.

  6. #6
    I use loose tenons and a slot mortiser

    Up side: I can control the tenon thickness with enormous precision - as I can run the stock through the planer to size it, I can control the geometry of the mortise with enormous precision because nothing moves out of place in the slot mortiser and I can use jibs for odd angles and my mortiser head tilts. Both are exceptionally repeatable

    But don't get me wrong. I've seen guys to it all by hand who can produce work as nicely fitted and closely toleranced as anything I've seen elsewhere.

    So I'd submit that there is no best way. There is only the way you go about it.

  7. #7
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    Personally, I've never made M&T joints using a router and router table, but I can see how it would work very well. Like Rod, I use my TS and a mortiser. Prior to that, I used my TS, DP and chisels.

    I never thought I would buy a mortiser, but then that deal came up last year on the Jet JFM5 with 30% cashback and a $200 rebate on top of a cost of $565, so how could I resist a floor model motiser for cheap...

    Dennis, I think the key here is to do it the way you feel most comfortable and confident in your abilities and tools. There have been a number of posts of shop made router jigs for M&T joints. I think one of the magazines - Shopnotes maybe? had a very good article on one recently.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  8. #8
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    Dennis,

    I haven't made any M&T's lately, but I have the Jet mortise machine and the Delta tenoning jig, and they will help you make pretty good M&T joints.
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  9. #9
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    mortise: plunge router with edge guide (can make a Tage Frid jig to set end points, or just put it in vise with wood on either side to increase support on base of router). Table is possible too, but I dislike lowering wood on to spinning bit and not being able to see it.

    tenon: table saw, either with dado blade and miter gauge, or make a tenoning jig (mine is a simple affair that fits over my fence and runs on that)

    If you do have time, the hand tool approach is particularly satisfying. Ray Isles mortising chisel and take your pick of saws for the tenons.

    Matt

  10. #10
    I tried all of the different way over the years. What I found that worked the best for me was to cut the mortises with a hollow chisel mortiser & cut the tenons on a tablesaw with a dado blade.

  11. #11
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    The above answers have ya well covered. My $0.02 is to try a few different ways and see which one you like best or which one suits your shop tools & work habits best.
    I do some 100% by hand, some by machine and some by a loose tenon machine I won't mention the name of as to avoid the rabid discourse it usually brings.

  12. #12
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    You should try making M&T joints using the different ways that are available and then decide what type of equipment to buy based on your experiences.
    I've tried them all over the past 50 years. I now have a Leigh FMT jig. It was expensive, but I will never use the hollow chisel methods again. I can cut perfect mortises and matching tenons all day long now, and do it much faster than I ever could any other way. If you don't have the money for an FMT, a Mortise Pal or a home made jig for a router will make good mortises and you can make floating tenons with your table saw and router table. The hollow chisel methods are no where near as accurate. Save your money and try doing it with a router and floating tenons. Then try somebody's hollow chisel mortiser before you buy one. Once you have made them with a router I'm sure you won't want a hollow chisel mortiser.

    Charley

  13. #13
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    I use a hollow chisel mortiser. For the tennon's, I use a router table.

  14. #14
    I cut my mortises on a shopsmith Mark V using a carbide spiral router bit, in drill press mode. I do not square the corners of the mortise. I found a drill bit is not stiff as I need, not to mention I cannot route out the slot at the same time I drill it out.

    I cut the tenons on the table saw with maybe a cut or two on the bandsaw. I then use a rasp to round the sides of the tenon to fit the mortise.


    I can do them very fast, clean and easy.

  15. #15
    Mortises: Drill press with a Forstner bit. Hand chisel for the corners (if you want square corners) and to smooth the sides.

    Table saw & tenoning jig for the tenons.

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