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"Through Mortises"

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  • "Through Mortises"

    I really like making Mission Style furniture. When given the opportunity I will always come down on the side of mortises and tenons for joinery. BUT! I am doing a project now that has stiles and rails that are over 2 inches square. Beautiful to work with, but one exception. There are many through tenons, and they are double through tenons. That is a whole lot of work that has to line up properly, and it is very difficult.

    But the problem I am having is making the mortises that go all the way through a 2 inch piece, and I have a problem getting a real nice neat cut on the down side. Even though I have a piece backing up the cut, I get more tear out than I like. I could be more specific in identifying the front side knowing the shoulders cover part of that when glued, but I have to think I need to do a better job upstream in the project so there is less work compensating for a bad cut or a large tearout.

    The project is working with cherry, 6/4 and glued for additional size. I have a Delta Mortise machine, but I don't seem to be very proficient with it. I have been into serious woodworking for under two years, and I still struggle with the required precision.

    Any tips would be appreciated on cutting mortises. I have been told by some to ignore the plans when they call for through mortises. What do you advise?

  • #2
    Re: "Through Mortises"

    you could make a shallow mortise that is the functioning one, and then a shallow Fake tendon on the opposite side to give the appearance of the through tendon, even just gluing a small piece of end grain wood in the location of where the through tendon would be, may work, (I think a shallow mortise would look and be better,

    the other option would be to cut about 3/4 the way through from one side and flip the leg over and cut from the opposite side for getting a good clean cut,
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    • #3
      Re: "Through Mortises"

      Especially on wood that tears out easily, the best way of cutting or drilling through is to go through half-way, flip the piece and cut through the other direction. That way, any tear-out is in the middle of the piece and will be invisible. I don't know how you're cutting your mortises, but make sure that your tools are sharp, that'll also help reduce tear-out.

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      • #4
        Re: "Through Mortises"

        Originally posted by Cephus View Post
        Especially on wood that tears out easily, the best way of cutting or drilling through is to go through half-way, flip the piece and cut through the other direction. That way, any tear-out is in the middle of the piece and will be invisible. I don't know how you're cutting your mortises, but make sure that your tools are sharp, that'll also help reduce tear-out.
        If you do this be sure you keep the same face against the fence so that if you setup is even a smidge off you will still line up with the first half.
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        • #5
          Re: "Through Mortises"

          All I can say is practice, practice and practice until you feel comfortable doing them. They are a great looking joint but need to be made "tight" with no gaps.

          Red
          Red

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