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?
The main disadvantage of a mortise and tenon joint is that the wood must be cut in two, which can weaken its strength.
Do you glue mortise and tenon joints?
Mortise and tenon joints are typically glued, but are held together with other methods in some cases.
What is the most common wood for tenons?
The most common wood for tenons is oak, but many other types of wood can be used too.
How deep should tenons be?
Tenons can be as deep or as shallow as you like, but consider the overall strength of the joint. Ideally, you would want to select a tenon depth that is at least one-quarter of the thickness of your material.
Is a tenoning jig necessary?
A tenoning jig is not necessary to cut tenons, but it definitely makes the process easier and saves you time.
What type of saw can you use to cut a mortise?
You can use any saw that is capable of making square cuts to cut a mortise, including a table saw, circular saw or even a hand saw.
Is there an easy way to build tenons?
There are several ways you can easily create traditional wooden tenons. You could also modify your miter saw by adding an adjustable fence to it in order to make quick work of tenons.
Is a jap joint necessary?
There is no need to join wood with a jap joint, but it is better to make the joint with a tenon and mortise as this will prevent the movement of the wood.
is a butt joint necessary?
A butt joint is sometimes used to join non-structural pieces of wood together, but it is not necessary.
Is a mortise and tenon joint better than a dowel joint?
A dowel joint has the disadvantage of being made from two weaker materials and less material overall cannot use this method if you want your joints to be strong for a long time.
Is there a way to get an accurate miter scale?
A good miter scale should not be offset from the fence and it will depend on your saw design if you can use one. Otherwise, some miter saws have an adjustable system that allows you to set up your miter saw based on your blade’s pattern or by manually setting it up.
How much should be left on each end of the tenon?
The face thickness needs to be equal or close in order for the joint to attach properly and be strong.
Do I need a dado blade to cut a tenon?
You can cut tenons with a regular blade as long as you have the right setup. You can also modify your tenon square to make it thinner or increase your dado width.
But a Dado Blade can surely help.
Can mortises be cut by hand?
A mortise can be hand cut using the right tools, like a chisel and mallet. Drilling a hole slightly smaller than the tenon is also helpful.
Why use a mortise chisel?
A mortise chisel is usually used to clean up the sides of a mortise. A common use for this is cleaning up the sides of the mortise hole to make it square at the bottom again.
Can I use a router table to cut a tenon?
Using a router table to cut a tenon is a tricky proposition. First we can’t use the full width of the bit, because that would cut through our tenon. This is called the “burn” and it’s very bad. If you don’t have a router table with an insert you can try cutting your tenon on the surface of your workpiece, but this isn’t as accurate as using a tool designed for this purpose.
Can I use a bandsaw to cut a tenon?
Sure. What you’ll need to do is use a tenon jig including a square on your bandsaw fence. This will ensure that the dog of the tenon jig is square to both the blade and the workpiece, and will ensure that you cut your tenon accurately.
Can I use a circular saw to cut a tenon?
Yes, however most DIY’ers prefer to learn how to make a circular saw into a table saw to get more steady cuts since its now fixed on a table.
Can I circle cut a tenon?
No, a tenon is not made with a circle cut, even though learning how to cut a circle on a table saw is impressive, it is not needed with tenons.
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!