Mortise Tenon Joints Using Hand Tools

Mortise tenon joints using hand tools are the easiest and cheapest way to accomplish one if not the strongest joinery in furniture construction. Mortise and tenon have been used for centuries by carpenters all around the globe, so it is tested and proven.

At an early age, the carpenters only used the basic hand tools to make mortise tenon joins, they used chisels, hammers, and hand saws, that’s about it, it is a slow and steady process to make furniture.

On the other hand, the modern world needs much faster methods to make mortise tenon joins. We use automated machines that can speed up the time much better than using hand tools, however…those machines cost a lot of money. They consume considerable electricity and also regular maintenance.

This problem made us as a small Indonesian furniture factory have to think and figure out how to make good quality joinery at the lowest cost possible. We use hand tools, but manual ones. Let’s dive into how to make mortise tenon joints using hand tools.

Make Tenon With Table Saw

Tenon is the male, the mortise is the female. To make a tenon joint, the best way is to use a big machine designed specifically to make tenons, this is a big bulky machine that costs money and lots of electricity.

To make tenon the manual way, we only need a saw and some rulers and markers. however this method is very slow, it is only used by an artisan who wants to demonstrate their woodworking skill.

For our small-scale industry, we use a table saw. Make a mark, set the sidebar, and cut it on both sides. that easy…

Do this process to cut loose the excess wood until you only have one in the middle. you might have to clean the excess wooden cut with sharp chisels but this is optional. usually, a table saw makes a good clean cut without the need for further work.

Here is the video that explains how to make mortise with a table saw.


Make mortise with hand tools

To make a mortise in a big furniture factory, they use a specific design mortiser, this machine is very efficient in making mortise, but again, it costs money and lots of electricity. Here is what the machine looks like.

mortise machine

To make a mortise the manual way, we need a chisel and hammers. But it will take a lot of time to make them. Now we use a hand router to speed up the process. But we had to remember not to cut them deep, take a few shallow cuts until we reached desirable mortise depth.

Here is a video that explains how to make mortise using a hand router, it’s not so easy to do by a beginner carpenter, but with a little bit of practice, this technique can be mastered with no big problem.

Another way to make mortise is using a hand drill, you have to draw the line first to do this. drill inline inside the mark you have made and then we have to chisel them down the excess wood. it’s not as fast as the modern machine but it is quite effective for the home industry or small-scale furniture makers.

In our workshop, we use a chisel mortiser to tackle this task, it is a compact tool that looks like a drill, but instead of a drill bit, it comes with a special bit that looks like a square chisel with a drill bit inside. Here is how it looks

chisel mortiser machine

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