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Mortise & Tenon

What is a Mortise & Tenon?Mortise & Tenon

Mortise and tenon is a type of joint that has been used by woodworkers, cabinet makers and furniture designers around the world for thousands of years, and is used more than any other type any other type of joint.

It is a means of wood joinery that is comprised of two basic components. First, the mortise, a hole or cavity cut into the wood that allows the tenon to pass through. The mortise cut is usually square or rectangular. Next, the tenon, (or tongue) is a piece that protrudes off the end of a pieces and fits into the mortise notch, to join the two pieces together. The tenon is usually between one third and one half the thickness of the stock from which it is cut, but ultimately it is cut for an exact fit to the mortise hole. The depth of the tenon is also cut to match the depth of the mortise, so that it is snug on all sides when the two pieces are jointed together. To fasten the joint together sometimes dowels or glue are used. A combination of both dowels and glue make for the strongest joint.

Mortise and tenon joints are commonly used in the constrution of furniture, cabinets, doors, and windows. Although, mortise and tenon joints are used mainly when connecting two pieces at a 90 degree angle, in cabinetry it is often seen in the pieces that make up the outer frame of a cabinet door. Mortise and tenon joints are one of the preferred joint styles in the cabinet industry, and when created properly, can be used as a decorative element in the finished appearance of a piece.

Changes in temperature and humidity that cause wood to expand and contract, have little effect on a mortise and tenon joint, which makes it a durable connection. Overall, it is both a simple and strong design that has lasted the test of time.