Q: I’m planning to make a table with legs that are 1-1/4 in. square at the top, and aprons that are 4 in. tall. I’d like to use mortise-and-tenon joints for the leg-to-apron joinery; how can I make the mortises large enough to be strong but not weaken the legs? David Dominick, Austin, TX A: Cutting a single 4-in. mortise at the top of the leg would definitely weaken it. One alternative is to cut a 1/2-in. shoulder at the top of the apron so that the mortise on the leg begins 1/2 in. down. The tenon should end flush with the bottom of the apron. But the walls of one long mortise will have a tendency to spread over time. A better solution is to cut two mortises. Keep the 1/2-in. shoulder at the top, and leave the bottom flush. Make sure the tenons fit well and that you glue them properly, because this will add strength. Finally, pick the leg stock carefully. Straight grain in the mortised section makes for a stronger leg. Also, start with an extra 1 in. of wood at the top of the legs. This prevents splitting when you’re mortising. You’ll cut it away…
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In this video, Matt takes some of the lessons learned in episodes 3 & 4 and builds on them to demonstrate the North Bennet Street method for the half-blind, or half-lapped, dovetails on the toolbox drawers.