How to Cut Tenons on a Table Saw
Many woodworkers find it difficult to make accurate cuts on the table saw. One common problem is finding edges to guide with a square and keeping the blade parallel, especially when cutting through any form of wider material. Tenons and mortises are relatively simple cuts to make with a saw, but it’s important to know the proper technique.
Before you begin your project, first look over your finished product and determine how you will cut the tenon or mortise, then check for any gaps in the workpiece. At this point, decide whether to make a cap molding for a flush joint or leave one side of the joint exposed for more visual interest (if so, you’ll also need to cut the waste from that side as well).
You can buy a tenoning jig to help you make perfectly sized tenons. This tool allows you to make consistent symmetrical cuts. Another way is to use the method described above and cut through the wood entirely leaving both sides of the joint exposed, which may be more aesthetically pleasing.
If you do not plan on making a cap molding or have made one and want to leave one side exposed, carefully measure and mark the wood piece where you will cut an angled tenon.
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- Remove the blade guard and any other attachments on your saw that might get in the way during this procedure.
- Position the miter gauge to locate the middle of the width of your workpiece, which will be the end where you will make your angled cut. You can also attach a cutting board to your miter gauge for better cutting accuracy in wider pieces.
- After measuring, mark where you will make this cut. You can either use a tape measure or layout lines on the table for more accuracy. If you are cutting wider material, it’s important to make sure your saw will not shift during this process and that your miter gauge is perpendicular to the table.
- Set your blade depth at 3/4″ and make your angled cut by guiding with your miter gauge.
- After making the angled cut, remove the wood piece and set it aside. Then make a cut perpendicular to the first one that will be the same depth, but wider. This will be your tenon. If you are cutting a mortise, this would be where you would start.
- Now you can cut out your waste.
- For best results on a table saw, use a miter gauge to guide your cuts parallel with the fence of your table saw. While cutting through the wood, make sure to keep your workpiece pressed firmly against the table so that it doesn’t move and cause problems for you during this process (you may want to wear gloves if it’s difficult to hold onto).
- You can cut a strip of material to use as a track to guide the blade along. You can secure this directly onto the saw table or set it down on a small piece of wood and trace around it. This will keep it in place without any type of clamp. To prevent slipping, you may want to add some type of release agent on your cutting board, as well.
- Once you have made your cuts, you can lower the blade and remove the waste on each side to leave a tenon.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully cut tenons on your table saw! Now you should feel confident in making any and all types of cuts with this versatile tool.
How to Cut Tenons on a Table Saw Video
How to Cut Mortise on a Table Saw
When cutting mortises, it is important to first set your blade depth to the same as the thickness of your material.
- Then align a miter gauge parallel with the fence on the table saw and attach a cutting board or workpiece if cutting wide materials.
- After measuring and marking, you can cut using this guide from either side that is more comfortable for you-the right or left side.
- After careful measurements, make one angled cut in one direction from one side then do the same on another angle from a different side perpendicular to this first cut.
- This will leave two pieces of wood with a tenon around them (one is stationary).
- Cut off any excess wood then you’re ready to use your mortise!
Tenon VS Dovetail
Tenons and dovetail joints are different from each other but they are both used to connect two pieces of wood.
A dovetail joint is stronger than a tenon joint because it is a variation of the lap joint which has more contact area between the pieces. Dovetail joints can be created with hand tools only or with power tools such as table saws or router tables.
A tenon can be cut with any type of saw, but it is most often created on a table saw using a dado blade. A tenon does not have as much contact area between the pieces as an equivalent size dovetail joint.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the disadvantages of a mortise and tenon joint?
Do you glue mortise and tenon joints?
What is the most common wood for tenons?
How deep should tenons be?
Is a tenoning jig necessary?
What type of saw can you use to cut a mortise?
Is there an easy way to build tenons?
Is a jap joint necessary?
is a butt joint necessary?
Is a mortise and tenon joint better than a dowel joint?
Is there a way to get an accurate miter scale?
How much should be left on each end of the tenon?
Do I need a dado blade to cut a tenon?
But a Dado Blade can surely help.
Can mortises be cut by hand?
Why use a mortise chisel?
Can I use a router table to cut a tenon?
Can I use a bandsaw to cut a tenon?
Can I use a circular saw to cut a tenon?
Can I circle cut a tenon?
how to cut tenons on a table saw
This ends our How To Guide of How to Cut Tenons on a Table Saw and How to Cut Mortise on a Table Saw.
We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional Woodworking projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.
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Henry is a long time Trade Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology. Henry has been teaching the trade of carpentry for over 15 years and is excited to share his knowledge with the next generation of builders. With his posts you will explore some general terms, tools, and techniques that are helpful for the beginning DIY Enthusiast!. He’ll also provide a list of all the best tips needed to start your building journey right away!