Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Rule of thumb for mortise size vs board size...

  1. #1

    Question Rule of thumb for mortise size vs board size...

    As a newb, trying to figure all of this out. So say I am dealing with a 8/4 board, and want to M&T it into a 16/4. On that 8/4 should I figure on tennon of 1" or basically half the width of said board?

    so a 4/4 would have a tennon of 2/4...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Dickinson, Texas
    Posts
    7,073
    Blog Entries
    1
    I don't have a formula, but I would make the tenon as fat as possible because it will be the weak . I would lean towards making the tenon 3/4 of the thickness of the 8/4 board. Why don't you make practice joints out of scrap. You will know when it's what it should be.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    I don't have a formula, but I would make the tenon as fat as possible because it will be the weak . I would lean towards making the tenon 3/4 of the thickness of the 8/4 board. Why don't you make practice joints out of scrap. You will know when it's what it should be.

    Fair enough.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    279
    If I understand what you are trying to do, cut a tendon on a 8/4 board , 1 1/2" thick actual size and a mortise on a 16/4 board, 3 1/2" thick actual size
    then the mortise and tendon would be 1 1/4" wide.
    I prefer to go as big on the tendon as possible as long as I stay at or less then 1/3 actual width of the board with the mortise. As in 3/8" on 3/4" act. 4/4 stock
    clear as mud? try some test pieces as said above
    good luck
    Ron

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    7,257
    The rule is 1/3. So, for a 4” thickness, a single tenon/mortice would need to be one third of that. Roughly 1 3/8” deep/long.

    If you do not wish to go that deep, consider a double mortice and tenon. I do not know a rule for that, but would guess that 1” would be sufficient.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

    p.s. I see Ron and I posted at the same time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    1,835
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan W Taylor View Post
    As a newb, trying to figure all of this out. So say I am dealing with a 8/4 board, and want to M&T it into a 16/4. On that 8/4 should I figure on tennon of 1" or basically half the width of said board?

    so a 4/4 would have a tennon of 2/4...
    You don't mention what your application is for 8/4 and 16/4 boards. That's big lumber. If strength of joinery is a primary objective, say for a load bearing structure, you want to maximize the tenon size on the dimension that carries the load. In this scenario, I would go full width tongues on the load carrying dimension, and maybe a .25/.5/.25 ratio on the other dimension.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Arlington, TX
    Posts
    140
    The general rule seems to be the mortise width should not exceed 1/3 the width of the mortised face.

    However, some people prefer to use 5/16" mortises/tenons (rather than the smaller 1/4") in 3/4" material.

    The maximum width of the tenon can be almost as wide as the tenoned piece (not to exceed the max width of the mortise), but if the tenoned piece will take a significant compression load, then the tenon shoulders should not be too narrow to support that load.

    For most applications, the 1/3 rule can be followed.

    Multiple tenons are usually used to increase the long-grain gluing surface of a mortise and tenon joint, especially where significant tension or racking forces are expected.

    Other means, such as pegs, tusks or wedges, can also be used to increase the tension/racking strength of a mortise and tenon joint.

    -- Andy - Arlington TX

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    52,407
    I'll also validate that "it depends upon what the jointery needs to support"...that is spot-on advice. With heavy timbers like your describe, I'd probably stay nearly full thickness on the tenon relative to the thickness of the 8/4 board because it's likely to be structural and any aprons are really just there to support the structure and help avoid racking. Mortise and tenon on smaller scales has to take into account both what load needs to be borne as well insuring that there is adequate material on either side of the tenon inserted into a mortise to be sturdy. There are so many choices here. Design for the purpose rather than for some "rule of thumb".
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,436
    Here’s a older blog post from Chris Schwarz regarding the somewhat confusing rules around mortise and tenons (FYI; this is published on the web...no copyright).

    In China, 2005 was the year of the rooster. In our shop, 2005 was the year of the anvil. We built a guillotine out of framing material and dropped anvils of three weights on joints to see how they fail.
    We learned a few things. First: You can get paid for doing juvenile stuff with anvils. Second: Modern PVA glues (yellow glue) are a lot stronger in end grain applications than woodworking wisdom suggests. And third: How you size the parts of your joint (thickness, width and length) has a lot to do with how sturdy it ultimately is.
    Nowhere was this more evident than with the venerable mortise-and-tenon joint. Changing the thickness of a part of the joint, such as the mortise wall, could greatly weaken or strengthen the joint under the crush of the anvil.
    There are some well-worn rules about how to scale a mortise-and-tenon joint, and they are worth thinking about the next time you lay out a tenon. Let’s take a look:
    Tenon thickness: This one gets debated a lot, and with good reason. Traditional texts say the tenon’s thickness should be one-third the thickness of the stock being mortised (an important distinction). So if you are joining two pieces of 3/4″material for a door, the tenon should be Ã?¼” thick. If you are joining a 7/8″-thick apron to a 1-1/2″-thick table leg, the tenon should be 1/2″ thick.
    Some modern texts say the tenon should be one-half the thickness being mortised , not one-third. My opinion is that this difference relates to the tools being used. If you mortise by hand, with chisels, the one-third rules makes more sense in my experience. Using a 3/8″-wide mortise chisel on 3/4″-thick material invites destruction in many cabinet woods.
    But if you’ve ever used a hollow-chisel mortiser, then you’ve probably been amazed at the difference in performance between the 1/4″ chisels and the 3/8″ chisels. The 1/4″ chisel gets clogged up much more easily because its escapement is much small. Plus, the hollow-chisel mortiser doesn’t put the kind of lateral strain on your work that hand-mortising does. So a 3/8″-wide mortise works with machines.
    Tenon length: The general rule is that the minimum tenon length is five times its thickness. So a 1/4″-thick tenon should be 1-1/4″ long. Of course, if you look at antique furniture, you see this “rule” violated , or maybe the furniture was made before they made the rule. Longer through-tenons are the rule of the day in much 19th and 18th century work. These are wedged tenons, generally. Check out George Ellis’s “Modern Practical Joinery” for a trip through the land of the through-tenon. Personally, I try to follow the “five times the thickness” rule for most cabinetwork. But when I’m building something that will encounter more wracking forces (such as a dining table), I go long.
    Tenon width: This one is more complex. The rule in Ellis’s book is two-fold. First, make the tenon one-half the width of the rail you’re cutting it on (a 2″-wide rail would get a 1″-wide tenon). Second: If that tenon’s width would be greater than six times its thickness, then you should split it into two (or more tenons). Example: You want to cut a 1/4″-thick tenon on a 6″-wide rail. Ellis’s rule says that your tenon should be 3″ wide. But a 3″-wide tenon is greater than 1-1/2″, which is six times the tenon thickness. So you have to break that tenon into two 1-1/2″-wide tenons.
    Is your head swimming yet?
    This rule seemed odd to me at first. The tenons it made seemed too narrow in width, which would allow the corners of your to frame warp (or cast) over time. But when you look at Ellis’s illustrations, it makes sense. He shows all his tenons with a short haunch that runs the entire width of the work. Ah!
    And what about double mortises, such as when you join a narrow drawer rail to a leg in a chest of drawers? This drawer rail is usually somewhat squarish and stout, and it doesn’t follow the rules laid out above , you don’t need a double tenon.
    Some sources seem to suggest that the double tenon can be made for convenience. You might not have a 1/2″ mortising chisel for that 1-1/2″ drawer rail. But you have a 1/4″ mortising chisel (of course you do!). So making two Ã?¼” mortises that are set by the tool are easier to make than a 1/2″ mortise that you would have to make with an odd-size chisel. (It’s a theory , not much more than that.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    1,844
    I've always use a 3/8" or even 1/2" tenon on a 3/4" board, 1/4" just seems too skinny. (1/2" to 3/4" on a 1" or 1-1/8" board). In most all of my joints other than door frames the mortise is in a thicker board, so there's plenty of wall thickness. Nothing has broken yet, and some of the furniture has been in use for 40 years now, including by rambunctious children.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •