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Wedged Mortise & Tenon Cabot AR

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
(501)941-4350
555 Going Road
Cabot, AR
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Whit Davis Lumber Plus
(501) 843-7009
340 Arena Road
Cabot, AR
 
Lowe's
(501) 241-1500
2301 T. P. White Drive
Jacksonville, AR
Hours
M-SA 7 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm

Whit Davis Lumber Plus
(501) 982-2156
723 School Dr
Jacksonville, AR
 
Lowe's
(501) 955-2219
4330 East Mccain Boulevard
North Little Rock, AR
Hours
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm

The Home Depot
(501)945-3500
4325 E McCain Blvd
North Little Rock, AR
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Kmart 3933 / Cross Merch
(501) 843-2206
W Main Street
Cabot, AR
Store Hours
Miscellaneous
Store Type
Miscellaneous
Hours
Mon:8-22
Tue:8-22
Wed:8-22
Thu:8-22
Fri:8-22
Sat:8-22
Sun:8-21
Store Features
Mon:8-22
Tue:8-22
Wed:8-22
Thu:8-22
Fri:8-22
Sat:8-22
Sun:8-21

LOWE'S OF JACKSONVILLE, AR
501 241-1500
2301 T.P. WHITE DRIVE JACKSONVILLE, AR, 72076
Jacksonville, AR
 
Fastenal- Jacksonville
501-982-2442
617 J.P. Wright Loop Jacksonville, AR, 72076
Jacksonville, AR
 
LOWE'S OF N. LITTLE ROCK, AR
501 955-2219
4330 EAST MCCAIN BOULEVARD NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR, 72117
North Little Rock, AR
 

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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