How to Cut a Tenon

Learn how to cut a tenon and complete your mortise and tenon joint project.

August 19, 2013

By Peter Korn

Woodworking Basics (The Taunton Press, 2003) takes a traditional approach to teaching, with the idea that learning basic skills is essential to craftsmanship. Author Peter Korn’s method helps new woodworkers learn the right techniques from the beginning; while more experienced woodworkers can use it to master classic furniture-making skills. This book provides a wealth of information including safe use of woodworking machinery, milling a board four-square and more. Two projects — a small bench and a side table — provide the opportunity to practice skills and develop confidence with tools. Learn how to cut a tenon, the piece that completes a mortise and tenon joint, in this excerpt taken from chapter 6, “Cutting a Mortise and Tenon.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Woodworking Basics.

 Woodworking Basics by Peter Korn, published by The Taunton Press, 2003

Mortise and tenon

A tenon should fit a mortise snugly, like a hand in a glove. They should go together with noticeable friction, but not require pounding. An overly tight tenon can make assembly a nightmare and even split a mortise along the grain.