New YouTube Video – Making the Mortise and Tenon

DSC_0604Some decades ago I walked across some common ground agonising over how best to describe a one-day workshop for 25 people coming for instruction from me. Every day for two full weeks the struggle continued and it kept me awake at night too. You see in 1989 I sensed a need to try to change the face of woodworking to dismantle the idea that progressive woodworking could only be accomplished by using machines. I was in the US where everything then was routed by routers and people spent hours, days and years making jigs to guarantee their cuts would create good joints even if they needed only one joint. The problem was I knew different. I knew that with three joints and ten hand tools a woodworker could make almost anything from wood and that they could do that in a fraction of the time it took to make the jigs. I coined the phrase three joints and ten hand tools and it all went progressive from there as I went on and personally trained the over 5,500 woodworkers what the true art of real woodworking was all about.DSC_0619


So recently we have posted some YouTube videos detailing exactly what I taught. I hope you enjoy this one on making the mortise and tenon joint in oak.


5 thoughts on “New YouTube Video – Making the Mortise and Tenon”

  1. I have to ask: what is in the three small drawers behind the quite large plane in the background?

  2. I have questions (the most foolish question is the one not asked):
    1. Why would you not use a knife wall along the long side of the mortise. Understood that the chisel can govern the width, but wouldn’t a knife wall ensure the straightness of the mortise edge. It might wander due to grain or worker’s inexperience (like, me)?
    2. For the tenon, if you guide the plate until the kerf guides it, if I might be using a frame saw for the cut, how wide should the blade be (and how deep the kerf) for that kerf-guides-the-saw-cut to be effective? (I ask this because I am still undecided as to saw purchases. It would possibly involve the difference between a backsaw plate and a thin, high tension blade.)
    3. Finally, cleaning the inside of the mortise as you did seems as if it would leave a rough inside surface. If I had a fine cutting float (and I would if I choose that method to make a wooden moulding-style plane), wouldn’t a few careful passes leave a better surface for glue?
    Finally, I love the use of that particular hand router to shave and level the shoulders.
    Thank you for this lesson.
    — Jeff

    1. 1) I have found long grain knifewalls to mortises of little value. Generally, knifewalls are to sever the grain across the grain because ot cannot be done any other way without tearing the grain.
      2) The blade width should be 1/2″ or more but no more than 1 1/2″ is necessary. We have a video coming out on woodworking masterclasses and youtube very soon on making these frame saws and they cost so little to make you cannot not make one.
      3) This will depend on the wood type and the accuracy of your workmanship. No, it is not usually rough inside the mortise but if the wood is fibrous it will leave some fuzziness to the walls. This is not negative though. It simply adds a little compression between the parts and the glue surface with the slight fuzziness is an advantage in my view.

      1. My workmanship after all these years, in all modesty, is appalling. Actually, I would have thought that a rougher mortise wall would impede glue adhesion. Your correction of that is good to know.

        I fully intend to make one or more framesaw, and am looking forward to how you do it and most especially how you will equip your saw with blades.

        This pursuit of woodworking after retirement has been very good for me. My mind is fully engaged when I am using my hands, and also when I am not. A fully engaged mind puts off some nasty things as we age, something my father never learned. I watched him (and tried unsuccessfully to engage him) and learned from his outcome.

        Thank you again for being a teacher.

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