Help! My tenon is too short!

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Daryl Rosenblatt 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #3472

    Roger Schroeder
    Participant

    Hi, Guys,
    Hopefully the topic title got your attention. And, no, this has nothing to do with ED. But it may be a good off shoot to the issues of making my slant-top desk.
    Most of you know I build small-scale furniture, although you may see more full-size projects in upcoming LI Woodworkers shows. Working in miniature hasn’t posed that many challenges, but I met my match with the cabinet doors on the desk. The photo, I hope, says it all. The rails are the smallest I’ve ever made, about 3 1/2″ with stub tenons. How did I make them? You’d probably find my methods both slipshod and dangerous. So I’m leaving my slate blank and asking how you would cut tenons on such short rails.
    Thanks in advance, guys, and the winner will receive a year’s supply of flagels. Seriously, I have no trouble working with longer rails, but these pose some tough challenges to a low-grade woodworker like myself.
    Roger

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  • #3474

    Daryl Rosenblatt
    Participant

    If I were doing this on a regular basis, I would probably get a set of MicroLux power tools, miniature tablesaws and such, allowing precise miniature work.

    Another possibility is for me to pay to do it for me, after you sign an insurance clause indeminfying (and I can’t spell it right) me against your risk to life and limb.

    A third way to to use a larger piece of wood, use a router bit or flat top grind saw blade n a larger piece of wood to make dadoes, then cut away the rail. Then hand cut the bottom of the tenons.

    I like the second way.

    Of use a #D printer, and hand paint wood grain onto the resin.

  • #3476

    Michael Mittleman
    Participant

    The Bridge City Tool Works JMPv2 Jointmaker Pro @ $1585 each should easily and safely do the work if you prefer a hand-driven process… or you can try to borrow Mike Daum’s. Daryl’s suggestion re MicroLux power tools is right on. Again, they are kind of pricey. Daryl’s idea about using larger stock then cutting it to size is also expeditious.

  • #3477

    Joe Bottigliere
    Participant

    If one is not so inclined to cut these by hand – back saw and router plane – I feel, even at this size, cutting these on the table saw is not that troublesome. The key is to use the proper setup for safety and accuracy. A good quality miter gage with an auxiliary fence right up close to the blade will provide the necessary support. A better option is to create a mini sled where the off-cut is also supported in the back and the bottom. Then, using an ordinary blade, take several passes to remove the cheeks. A stop on the fence will ensure accuracy.
    Another option is to use the router table with a coping sled of sorts. Either way would provide adequate safety.
    I look at this way, and I don’t take many chances. If there is enough room for my hand to securely hold the work and be sufficiently away from the cutting edge, then it’s safe. The extra wood provided in a longer part is just that – extra. I believe that is a great technique, but in this case I don’t think it necessary.

  • #3478

    Bill Leonhardt
    Participant

    I will also vote for the handtool method. A backsaw and a shoulder plane. Even if you cut the tenons by machine, you would still most likely trim them a little with some type of plane to get a “good fit” in the mortise.

  • #3479

    Charlie James
    Participant

    I’d go with the hand tools as well, especially if it’s only a few. Making 1/2 the stubs on a longer piece of wood and cutting it down to size is good too. Then complete the other side by hand. I always knife the shoulder cuts first, makes clean shoulders. As Bill said you always end up fitting it with a shoulder plane or even sandpaper to get the final fit. If it was more than a few I’d probably use my router jig. I have a jig set up already for something I made years ago. Makes quick work of the whole process, nice clean lines and safe too. Just need a push stick. If I was home I’d take a picture but it’ll have to wait a few days.

  • #3480

    Daryl Rosenblatt
    Participant

    I took Marc Adams Joinery I class…all we did for a week was hand tools cutting joints like that. After about 60 hours, they started to look pretty good. So no question they could be done by hand. So that’s 60 hours down, 9940 hours to go for proficiency.

    I wasn’t joking about the MicroLux tools, and while I still do a lot of model building I don’t have any. While they are excellent, in building things that small, in almost every case, an XActo knife and not much patience yields most of the results you need. For a lathe, I use a corded drill mounted into a Grizzly widget that includes a live center and a tool rest. Sort of a mini underpowered lathe, perfect for model making. Like most woodworking, hand skills are generally the best way to do for one off work.

  • #3484
    Ben Nawrath
    Ben Nawrath
    Participant

    I’ll throw my size 8 hat in the ring…
    Router sled similar to a coping jig and a straight bit?
    Table saw sled with a 1/4″ box joint blade (mini dado/flat bottom cut)?
    Have a flagel and think it over.

  • #3485

    Charlie James
    Participant

    A sideways router table. I can sink the bit below the table which allows me to cut a tenon without trapping the work between the table and the bit. I find I still have to knife the shoulder cuts to get a clean edge. With a few stops added I can make mortises as well.

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  • #3487
    Michael Luciano
    Michael Luciano
    Participant

    Why not a Tenon jig on the tablesaw?

  • #3488

    Charlie James
    Participant

    Sure, why not..

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  • #3490

    Charlie James
    Participant

    I guess that picture didn’t come out?

  • #3492
    Ben Nawrath
    Ben Nawrath
    Participant

    Mike, I know the clamp on my tennoning jig is fairly high so that could be a limitation on smaller rails. I suppose you could always use a different clamp…

  • #3493

    Joe Bottigliere
    Participant

    neither picture came through for me, Charlie.

    A tennon jig is fine for cutting the cheeks, Mike. It’s just another option. You just need to be able to clamp the short piece securely to the jig. I would think the concern is with making the shoulder cuts. Since the piece is relatively short, your fingers are put close to the blade. Still, I think it can be done safely.
    If I’m not cutting the parts by hand, a tennon jig on the table saw is my preferred method.

    What is the most popular way of cutting tennons for the rest of you?

  • #3494

    Charlie James
    Participant

    This one?

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  • #3496

    Michael Mittleman
    Participant

    Table mounted router + rabbet bit + coping sled works

  • #3497

    Joe Bottigliere
    Participant

    Charlie,
    I was looking for something to pick on in the photo that finally displayed but I’m at a loss. (You should all know how rare that is for me.) Is that a shop made jig or purchased? It looks a lot like the PSI or Eagle America brand. I’ve been wanting to build/buy one of those for years. It’s just one of those things. There is no great NEED for it at the moment so I make do with what I have.

  • #3498

    Joe Bottigliere
    Participant

    I never had much luck with that technique, Mike. I’m sure it works fine, but I never felt comfortable cutting anything more than a stub tennon that way. I wonder who else uses that technique.

  • #3499

    Charlie James
    Participant

    Joe, I know you being speechless is rare! I made it quite a few years ago more as a tenoning jig. Threaded rod and a few screws as well as masonite. The bit drops below the table so I can cut without trapping the workpiece. When cutting mortises I raise the bit and put a few stops in place. Very safe. Have a vacuum attachment built into it below as well. Rudimentary but it works great. I’ll take pictures from the back and post..

  • #3500

    Michael Mittleman
    Participant

    I hesitated to suggest the go-to solution for perfect tenons because of safety considerations. It is called the AB Method. “AB” = Angry Beaver. Here goes: Carefully layout the desired tenon dimensions, gingerly pick up a beaver by its tail and give a slight twist. Point the now Angry Beaver at the board and watch the wood fly! Chew out can be an issue. Good luck.

  • #3501

    Michael Mittleman
    Participant

    I forgot to add: for smaller pieces and/or finer cuts consider the AT Method. Yes, you guessed it, AT = Angry Termite. Tough to find the tail though…

  • #3505

    Daryl Rosenblatt
    Participant

    That’s what’s wrong with the country now. Everyone is angry, even the termites and beavers. If you are nice to them, they will be nice back, despite our mutual differences. Maybe they will even chew the wood in a straight path, ending the need to sand smooth.

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