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Wedged Mortise & Tenon Anderson SC

Experiment with the notch's angle. The wider the taper, the stronger the joint. My taper is 3 degrees, but you can increase it up to 8 degrees. 4. Test the bend. My flexible strips are only 1/8 in. thick opposite the strain-relief hole, so they bend easily.

The Home Depot
(864)964-0820
3427 Clemson Blvd
Anderson, SC
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Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

The Home Depot
(864)886-0633
1614 Sandifer Blvd
Seneca, SC
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White Jones Ace Hardware
(864) 225-1406
Watson Village Shpg Ctr, 128 E Shockley Ferry Rd
Anderson, SC
 
Lowe's
(864) 964-9228
3515 Clemson Blvd.
Anderson, SC
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Fastenal- Anderson
864-375-9994
297 Commerce Blvd Anderson, SC, 29625
Anderson, SC
 
The Home Depot
(706)376-1748
1700 Anderson Hwy
Hartwell, GA
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Mon-Sat: 7:00am-9:00pm
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TRADO SUPPLIES
864-225-4438
10105 WHITEHALL RD ANDERSON, SC, 29623
Anderson, SC
 
Kmart 7754 / Cross Merch
(864) 716-0800
3801 B Clemson Blvd
Anderson, SC
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White Jones Ace Hardware
(864) 225-1600
2903 N Main St
Anderson, SC
 
LOWE'S OF ANDERSON, S. C.
864 964-9228
3515 CLEMSON BLVD. ANDERSON, SC, 29621
Anderson, SC
 

Wedged Mortise & Tenon

Wedged Mortise & Tenon

The joint will never loosen!

by Tom Caspar

Tap, tap, tap. The wedges go home, the glue squeezes out and a big smile lights up your face. “This joint isn’t coming apart for a hundred years,” you say. “It’s as solid as a rock!”

Making a wedged mortise-and-tenon joint is richly rewarding. Once you understand how it works (see photo, below), you can’t help but admire the joint’s elegant simplicity. It also sends a message. A wedged joint says to one and all, “This was made by a skilled woodworker.” 

How the Joint Works

Here’s a cutaway view of a wedged mortise-and-tenon joint. Driving in the wedges forces the tenon to flare into a fan or dovetail shape. The mortise is tapered to match the angle of each wedge. Like a dovetail, this joint can’t pull apart after the wedges go home.

This tenon has two unusual features: saw kerfs that create flexible strips and holes that disperse the strain that the wedges create. The wedges cause the strips to bend; the holes prevent the bend from splitting the rail.

Where could you use a wedged joint? It’s a candidate for any joint that receives a lot of stress. A table base is a good example (top photo). Pushing or leaning on this table might slowly force a standard joint apart, but wedges keep this joint locked together. 

The wedged mortise-and-tenon joint isn’t difficult to make, but you should have some experience making standard mortise-and-tenon joints before tackling it.

Tools Required

To make this joint, you’ll need a tablesaw, drill press, plunge router, chisel and a bandsaw. If your mortise’s width is 5/8 in. or more, like the mortise I made, you’ll need a 1/2-in.-dia. top-bearing flush-trim bit ($19). If the mortise is more than 3/4 in. deep, you’ll need a bottom-bearing flush-trim bit ($20) (see Source, below). For a mortise less than 5/8 in. wide, you’ll need a straight router bit and a fence or jig for your plunge router.

Rout the Mortise

Before you begin your project, make a prototype joint (see photo, below). 

Designing Your Wedged Joint

Each part of a wedged joint must often be tailored to fit the joint’s size, intended strength and type of wood. Make a prototype following these steps: 

1. Substitute a notch made with a dado set for the mortise (see “How the Joint Works,” page 45). Taper both of the notch’s sides by angling the miter gauge.

2. Make a full-size tenon. Observe how well the flexible strips bend. You may be able to use smaller strain-relief holes or no holes at all.

3. Experiment with the notch’s angle. The wider the taper, the stronger the joint. My taper is 3 degrees, but you can increase it up to 8 degrees. 

4. Test the bend. My flexible strips are only 1/8 in. thick opposite the strain-relief hole, so they bend easily.

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