10 Essential Tools for Making Mortise and Tenon Joint

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Woodworking is an art that every person out there should admire and respect. There are so many cool things and techniques that you can learn to do and it's such a surreal feeling when you look at your finished work and be proud of what you've built. One of the things that you can learn to do is crafting a mortise and tenon joint, take a look below at how it's done and what tools you need to help you make it.

What is Tenon Joints and Mortises?

These are one of the most common and strong joints for woodworking projects. Think of it simply as pieces of building block toys sticking together, for example, but in the wood-crafting world. It's the most widely used and crafted woodworking joints because of its strength and various uses. There are two kinds of it too, the common hidden tenon or the through-tenon kind. The hidden tenon only goes inside the mortise and you don't see it at all, but the through-tenon goes all the way through the mortise, so the holes are on both sides of it. It is one of the very first crafted joints that should be learned by aspiring or novice carpenters and woodworkers who are still beginning to hone their skills. Even power tool woodworkers should know the basic fundamental aspects of how to make this type of wood-crafting by using normal and traditional hand tools that are available to them.

The Tools Of The Trade

There are two things that are highly important in the woodworking world: craftsmanship skills and the tools they use. Every craftsman needs the right tools in order to make something in a decent and perfect way. Everyone always wonders what the best tools for making mortise and tenon joints are, and the answer just depends on how big the project you're working on is. Essentially, you would need these tools listed below:

1. A Sharp Pencil or Pen: This is important because you need it to mark the important spots and lines to cut or drill through in a precise manner.


2. A Combination Square: This tool is used to make your markings in a straight line so your work comes out looking sharp and not have a squiggly, wavy look. Also, it helps you to determine how close you're getting into the depth of your tenon.


3. A Mortise Gauge or Marking Gauge: This is important and used to mark lines on the tenon board and mortise, scribing both of them from shoulder to shoulder and the face of the board so you can see where the tenon will go into the mortise. 


4. Two or More Bench chisels: These tools come in different sizes, picking one or two depends on the size of the work you're doing. They can be 1″, 1-1/2″, 1/8″ and 1/4″. They are used to make your saw cut easier through the wood, creating a trench on the parts you're about to cut through.

5. A Dovetail Saw or Tenon Saw: You use your saw to cut through the marked wood that you will remove to shape and form the mortise and tenon. The Dovetail is the standard saw, but you can use a Tenon saw if you got larger wood to work with.

6. A Wooden Mallet: You use this tool to hit the chisels when you're trying to make deeper marks. And among other things, it can be used to form and shape your woodwork.


7. A Carcass Saw: This is a much bigger saw for deeper and stronger cuts, it can get a little tricky when you're using it, but it is needed in some parts of the crafting process to make the wood pieces pop off better. 


8. A Mortise chisel: This is used to chop out and cut little pieces and areas that you cannot do with your saws. It's very helpful and brings out clean looking cuts in small areas.


9. A Clamp: This tool is very helpful and you use it to secure your work up against another wooden board so it stays steady and completely still when you're working. 


10. A Blunt Knife:
You use this to clean out and scrape out the extra waste of wood shredding in your work, making it clear, empty, and decent looking.

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What Is the Joint Used For?

This is used for many different things that are crafted by woodworkers and carpenters. An effective joint can be used for strongly holding together things and would only need brute force to unhinge it off. It is used for things like timber frame buildings, crafting tables, windows, closets, chairs, doors, wooden clocks, cabinets, tool chests, shelves, and various other pieces of wooden furniture. Your imagination can go wild with what you can think of building next.

Useful Tips To Watch Out For

As you're starting to build it, make sure you always mark the areas where you’ll be drilling or cutting through. It's very difficult to fix the mistakes or errors and it could lead you to start from scratch. It's preferable to make the mortise first, then you start working on the tenon. Just in case of errors and mistakes happening, it is always easier to adjust the tenon than the mortise. It might take you a few tries, so it's recommended to buy a cheap pre-dimensioned stick of wood for you to start practicing on first. Poplar wood is a good type for your first trial and error phases. Be very careful and steady with your saw, have safety gloves with you to avoid any cuts or splinters. Try not to wiggle your chisel sideways when you are pulling it out of the mortise, because the last thing you need is to mess up the width of the hole. And try not to use your mortise chisel to clean and scrape out the loose wood shredding and chunks out, you might unintentionally ruin it so use your small blunt knife instead.

Craft Perfection

It's amazing what a person could do with their own hands in the woodworking world. Go out there and find a project that has a good number of mortise and tenon joints so you can practice and build many beautiful items. After you've learned and mastered the ways to do it, apply what you've learned and had fun doing it.