Last updated on April 2nd, 2020 at 12:57 am
A mortise and tenon joint is one of the most frequently used woodworking joints which has been around for centuries.
If you make it properly, the resulting joint tends to be very strong and neat in appearance. That is why it’s commonly used in cabinetmaking where the neatness of the joint is very important.
The mortise and tenon joint is used to join two pieces of wood especially when they’re meeting at right angles or 90 degrees.
It has many types, but the basic mortise and tenon joint is made up of two parts. The mortise and the tenon.
The mortise is usually a square hole cut into end of one of the two material or woods that are to be joined. While the tenon is also formed at the end of the other material which is usually referred to as the rail.
The tenon must be cut to fit squarely into the mortise so that there’s no gap, and the resulting joint is strong and neat.
To lock the mortise and tenon together, the resulting joint can either be glued, wedged or pinned together to prevent any movement.
In this post, we’ll show you how you can make mortise and tenon woodworking joints easily.
How to cut mortise and tenon woodworking joints
If you know your way around hand tools like chisels, you can easily cut or carve a mortise and tenon easily.
That’s if you know how to use these hand tools. Carving the mortise and tenons can be quiet tricky. It requires a level of skill on your part, and it takes time.
Even if you know how to cut it using these hand tools, you’ll spend a measure of time cutting each mortise and tenon.
And if you have many of these to cut, then you’ll have to set aside a large part of your time to do it.
On the other hand, you can also cut mortise and tenons with power tools. This is the option I choose. It’s easier and less time consuming than using hand tools.
Here’s a rule of tumb when cutting mortise and tenon joints. Always cut the mortise first and cut the tenon second.
This is because you’ll find it much easier to shape the tenon to fit into the mortise than to cut the tenon first and try to cut the mortise to accommodate the tenon.
You might end up cutting the mortise too large and ruin your work. So, always try to cut the mortise first before the tenon.
For cutting the tenons, you can use a tenoning jig like this Grizzly industrial tenoning jig below, or you can make your own tenoning jig as show in the subsequent video below.
The Grizzly industrial H7583 tenoning jig will fit right into your table saw miter slot as long as it’s a T-shaped miter slot.
With it you can make accurate and repeatable tenons easily.
Before you cut the tenons though, you have to cut the mortise. Here are some power tools for cutting accurate mortise easily.
A benchtop mortiser can help you cut any type and size of mortise you want. Here are some of the best bench mortisers you can go for.
Powermatic PM701 Bench Mortiser
This Powermatic bench mortise features a ¾ horse power motor, equipped with a 1/-inch chuck and an inline depth stop for making accurate and repeatable mortise cuts.
You can check it out here.
RIKON Power Tools Benchtop X/Y Mortiser
Rikon’s benchtop mortiser is equipped with a ½ horse power capable of producing 1750 rpm of speed to cut mortises through even the most hardest of woods.
It features an X-Y directional table with stops which helps you control the workpiece in the X-Y direction and offers you full control of the workpiece as you bore your mortises.
Jet JBM-5 Bench Mortiser
The Jet JBM-5 bencht mortiser weighs 44 pounds, and it’s one of the best benchtop power mortisers for making mortises.
A ½ horse power motor produces a speed of 1752 rpm and provides all the power you need to make as many mortises as you want.
The Jet mortiser is constructed from rugged cast iron and steel, ensuring it will last for as long as you maintain it properly.
If you need benchtop power motiser, this Jet JBM-5 is definitely one you can rely on.
Powermatic 719T Tilt Table Mortiser
If you need dedicated workhorse mortiser to produce mortises day in and day out, then this Powermatic 719T tilt table mortiser will do the job for you.
This Powermatic mortiser is designed to help you quickly cut mortises that are fit tightly with the tenons.
It’s constructed with heavy cast iron for stability during operation and to ensure it stands the test of time.
The feed lever allows 6 position quick position adjustments which makes it easier to use the mortiser.
It comes equipped with a gas cylinder controlled rack and pinion head raising and lowering mechanism which makes it very easy to operate.
The table and fence can be tilted from 0 to 35 degrees for even more complex applications.
Overall, the Powermatic 719T is one of the best mortiser you can use for making square, and tightly fitting mortises.
Makita chain mortise
If you want to cut mortises for some really large stocks of wood, a chain mortiser like this Makita 7104L is your best bet for the job.
It comprises a razor sharp chain power by a powerful 10.5 Amp motor which spins the chain at 3,200 rpm speed to quickly notch and cut any type mortises in thick wood stock.
This Makita chain mortiser might not be ideal for cabinet making though. It’s meant for cutting mortises on thick wood stocks like those used for timber framing or log home buildings.