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Thread: Tenon length exterior shutters

  1. #1

    Tenon length exterior shutters

    I am helping make reproduction exterior shutters for an old school house as part of an Eagle Scout project.

    It is a raised panel design with mortise and tenon joinery of the rails and stiles. The originals were made in the late 1800s with through mortises.

    The stiles are 5 inches wide and 9 feet long. The rails are 5 inches and 7 inches in width. The material is white pine that will be painted.

    My question is in regard to the depth of the tenons. I did not plan to do through mortises like the original design. What would be the appropriate length of the tenon or mortise depth? I do not want to cut corners on the project but I also want to be efficient. I have 54 of these to cut. I only have access to a plunge router, a table router and chisels. I also have a drill press. What would be a reasonable tenon length? What would be the consequences of making them too short?

    Thanks for any help. Also FYI “helping with the Eagle project” is a great cover story for escaping to the woodshop. No questions asked from the wife. I might have to milk this one for awhile.

  2. #2
    Eagle project? Good project.

    If you don't have to make the shutters to match the originals exactly, and with efficiency in mind, I think I would make the mortises in the stiles about as deep as you can with a spiral upcut router bit. Are these shutters fixed or do they have to open and close?

  3. #3
    I am trying to copy the original but I certainly don’t have to do the through mortises. They will be functioning and will open and close.

    I had thought about plunge routing to 2 inches and then hand chiseling the rest. But if it’s not necessary I don’t want to make that kind of time investment. If two inches is sufficient and there wouldn’t be any negative consequences than that is probably what I would do.

    Thanks for your input!

  4. #4
    I guess since they would be functioning, I'd tend to err more toward deeper mortises.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    The consequences of making the tenon too short is the shutter racking out of square with gravity over time. The longer the tenon, the more resistance it has to sag. 9' is a lot to ask of a 2" tenon. You will sleep easier if you make them 4". It is more work but that is not necessarily a bad thing apparently... Set up an an angle plate on your drill press and rough them out to full depth. Finish machine what you can with the router and a jig, then clean out the rest with a chisel. Cheers

  6. #6
    Thanks for the thoughts. That was my instinct. I did a test run already on my drill press and it worked very well at 4 inches. It was quicker than I expected. With the pine the drill press cleans it out very nicely. And I will be able to sleep better!

  7. #7
    I would mortise all the way thru, glue, wedge, pin. Some prefer same minus the glue. The idea there is easier repair.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seth Cassell View Post
    I am helping make reproduction exterior shutters for an old school house as part of an Eagle Scout project.

    Thanks for any help. Also FYI “helping with the Eagle project” is a great cover story for escaping to the woodshop. No questions asked from the wife. I might have to milk this one for awhile.
    So what part of making the shutters is being done by the Scouts? They should be doing the majority of the work on this project.
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    So what part of making the shutters is being done by the Scouts? They should be doing the majority of the work on this project.
    There are some strict limitations on what tools scouts are allowed to use. And, for an Eagle project, it's not about the Scout doing all the work. It's about planning, developing, and showing leadership. Enlisting the aid of others is important but those others aren't required to be scouts. Part of it is figuring out who has the skills to do what is needed to complete the project.
    Last edited by Dave Richards; 02-23-2019 at 9:34 AM.

  10. #10
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

    Good questions about the project. The young man running it is doing a great job for those reasons. He took on a massive amount of work in restoring the whole school house. It could really be five different eagle projects. As Dave mentioned it’s about leading and coordinating and raising funds. I volunteered to help with the shutters. I will be teaching the woodworking merit badge to some scouts along the way and they’ll be getting service hours for their next rank. It’s a great scout and community project.

    I appreciate everyone helping me think through the design.

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