Sam Wilson's Website

T280: mortise and tenon

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  1. I’m getting better at cutting the short rips for tenons. I clamp the piece vertically, and line it up in the vise with the square, then do the two long rips. They’re sometimes annoying, and I’m not very good at going straight still. But then, without moving the piece, I turn 90° and cut the short rips, without marking anything or doing anything other than a) getting my eye over the top of the saw and b) looking down below the vise at where the other end of the piece is — that latter is a new trick for me, and it’s amazing how much easier it is to get aligned that way. Then, it’s just a matter of cutting down, quite quickly. It works pretty well and repeatably, although I’m still not very good at stopping at the right point: I keep either going too far (rarely) or (more commonly) not far enough, so when it comes to cutting the cheeks off I have to saw sideways a bit.

    I’ll do another eight, and see how things improve.

    Incidentally, the Woodworking vises category on Commons needs more photos!

  2. I’ve been cutting more tenons, and experimenting with the accuracy of the cheek cuts: I mark out the width of the tenon from the mortise chisel, laying it on the end grain of the piece. This is marked with a sharp pencil, rather than a knife, because the actual line is scored with a marking gauge (off the face side). It’s easy to mark the pencil point, and not too hard to cut to the line, but the trick seems to be in how the gauge is set in relation to the pencil mark. It needs to be just on the outside of the width of the graphite, rather than marking the actual width of the chisle — when the mortise is cut, it’ll be slightly wider than the chisel, by a matter of 0.5 mm or so, and so the saw cut needs to take this into account. Get it right, and the tenon will fit the mortise snugly (i.e. not too tight, and not with too much air). I’ve been varying the line by tiny amounts for each one I’m doing, and it’s surprising how much difference it makes to the final fit. One day I’ll be able to do a good one repeatably!