How do I reinforce an old mortise and tenon joint?



Mortise and tenon joints are the preferred style of joint for furniture and cabinetwork. It’s strong, durable, and little affected by the expansion or contraction of wooden members as a result of temperature and humidity changes. When shaped properly, mortise and tenon joints can even be decorative elements in the finished appearance of a piece.

Making a mortise and tenon joint may be a daunting pros pect to the novice woodworker, but with the proper tools, shap ing the parts is a quite straight forward process.

Laying Out the Joint. As any ex perienced cabinetmaker will tell you, proper layout is just as important as the cutting and shaping to follow. A perfectly shaped tenon that’s the wrong size or shape is no accomplish ment at all.

The tenon should be between one third and one half of the thickness of the stock from which it is made.

Set your mortise gauge to the chosen tenon thickness, posi tioning the points so that...

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Assemble the mortise and tenon joint, and drill through to the mortise from the side, as shown. Use a depth stop, or indicator on the drill bit, to prevent drilling the tenon. You should be aiming for about half way along the tenon's length. Preferably use a brad point drill bit, as this will leave a crisp indication of the centre of the hole on the face of the tenon.

Now remove the tenon. See the centre mark left by the drill bit?

Complete the hole through the far side of the mortise. You don't need to break through the far face, if you would prefer not to see the pin.

On the tenon, mark a new centre point, closer to the tenon shoulder. The exact offset isn't too critical, but will be governed by the materials being used and how easily they compress. I was using a hardwood (beech I think) dowel rod as a pin, and the joint was also in hardwood. I offset the centre by approximately 1/4 the dowel's diameter.

Using the new centre, drill through the...

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The mortise and tenon woodworking joint has been used around the world for thousands of years—for good reason. It's considered one of the strongest woodworking joints for attaching two pieces of wood at 90 degrees. While not as visually appealing as dovetail joints, the mortise and tenon joint can be used by woodworkers of all skill levels to build furniture and other woodworking projects.

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The mortise and tenon joint functions by inserting one end of a piece of wood into a hole in another piece of wood. It's that simple. The smaller end of the wood is the "tenon," and the wood with the hole in it is referred to as the "mortise." Glue is used to secure the pieces together and variations on the joint also use pins and and wedges to lock the joint in place.

Newsy Preservation Paris / Flickr CC 2.0

Like the dovetail joint, a mortise and tenon can be carved by hand, but that requires a certain skill level and aptitude...

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IDI says its cabinet doors are glued with pins inserted at each joint and the mitered doors feature a true

mortise and tenon joint


Inclusion of knee braces (with end tenons) into frames constructed with round

mortise and tenon joints

can be difficult because the tenons on the ends of the knee braces along with the tenon on one of the members (usually a beam or post) must be inserted simultaneously into their associated mortises--a problem also encountered in conventional rectangular

mortise and tenon joint

construction (Chappell 1983).

Solid hardwood frame components with

mortise and tenon joint

construction provide stability and durability.

The blind

mortise and tenon joint

is fully customizable for size and position of the tenon and mortise.

Because the

mortise and tenon joint

has such a large wood to wood surface contact, it makes an excellent joint choice for furniture manufacturers.


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Suggestions for strong, flexible, durable adhesives for a dynamic...

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Note: I didn't feel the need to glue my joints, but some feel it would be an idea to consider. I explain more about this at the end in the IMPORTANT: section. If you would like you can glue your joints. A glued joint is a stronger joint, but is unnecessary for this project if done as I have.

I'm going to just use the bracket size I decided on in my explanation, but I will explain how I came to certain measurements.. I decided to make a 24" wide x 24" long bracket arms with a 45 degree brace. I also decided I needed 17 brackets.

I like to use stop blocks to cut my pieces. If you are not familiar with a stop block. It is simply a stopping point on your compound miter saw that you adjust to your length of cut. Then you just bump your lumber up to it, cut that piece, put it in a stack, then cut the next piece. It greatly increases your speed and accuracy of cuts. If you still don't understand this just YouTube stop block on miter saw.


(this will...

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