College Practical techniques

College course: Day 4

Interesting day. If you are the one person that reads this blog, you’ll remember last week I was feeling a bit tense about my first ever mortise and tenon joints, and whether they would fit together. By all means scroll to the end of the post, but here’s how it went.

This is a cross piece from a side panel. It needs ‘tenons’ on the end, to fit into the ‘mortices’ (the holes), in the other pieces, which I made last week. When they’re fitted together, they will make really good, strong joints.

Taking the waste off the top side. Note the saw marks actually go back further to the ‘shoulder’, but when the side bits, the ‘cheeks’ are taken off, the reason why will be explained.

The side ‘cheeks’ of the tenon now need to come off to expose the central part, which will become the tenon. To make the cut very clean, and so that the joint closes up very tightly, I’m paring an angled cut across, leaving a ridge for my saw to run alongside.

Cheeky! Or not so, any more. Both sides come off, and you can now see the tenon, which will fit into the mortise. The top part, reduced in length, will also go into the joint, but that is a smaller part of the tenon called the ‘haunch’. This will be recessed into a shallower mortice, and will add stability and strength to the joint.

A quick test-fit, and joint is way too tight. My sawing seems pretty straight, but the tenon is about a millimeter too thick for the mortice. I take the opportunity to use a nice paring chisel I just snagged on eBay, to take some thickness off. I could also use a shoulder plane of course, but hey, it’s nice to try and hone your hand skills.

This short bit eventually needs to slot into the holes in the outside bits. (Technical terminology).

Ok, this is too exciting. The joints slide smoothly into the mortices, which is a success in my book. At the moment, you can see the joints stop at the haunches, and next week I’ll just need to continue a shallower mortice along this part, so the joint closes. I’ll probably do that by hand, taking out the extra with a mortice chisel the same width as the existing mortice. All four joints should then close up nicely.