Perfect Mortise-and-Tenon Joints
A plunge router, a tablesaw, and a couple of jigs make the process almost foolproof
Synopsis: Using a plunge router, tablesaw, edge guide, and shopmade jig, Jeff Miller makes mortise-and-tenon joints that fit right every time. Here, he shares his technique and his plans for a simple jig that ensures well-cut mortises, then his tips for cutting and fine-tuning tenons for a perfect fit.
The mortise-and-tenon joint is one of the strongest woodworking joints. For maximum strength, a mortise-and-tenon joint needs good contact between long-grain surfaces; those are the surfaces on the sides of the mortise and the cheeks of the tenon. That means the long-grain surfaces must be flat, smooth, and parallel. And, just as important, the fit between those surfaces must be snug.
My techniques for cutting mortise-and-tenons have served me well for years. The mortises are cut with a plunge router, a straight bit, an edge guide, and a shopmade jig. Tenons are cut on the tablesaw with a tenoning jig. The…