Monday: a Tale of Two Tenons — Ethan

Working in the woodshop has a very laid-back ness to it — today I came in a little before 8:00, worked around a band 2 class, took a break at around 11 to go for a run, got lunch in the dining hall — reveling in my lack of classes — and came back to work for another two hours before packing up and heading home. I suppose that’s just as well, because the work I’m doing now is itself very intense and precise; I experienced both edges of that sword today.

With the legs having been glued up nicely over the last two days, I was ready to come in this morning and get straight to work. The first order of business was to use a chisel to scrape off any excess smears or bubbles of glue that formed as it dried, in order to have nice clean edges. The next order of business was to measure and mark and measure and mark ad nauseum (almost) in order to create the perfect dimensions for the tenons on the table legs.

In woodworking, a classic mortise-and-tenon joint looks like this:

(The negative space is the mortise, and the positive filler is the tenon.)

The tabletop (rightmost and also bottom left) has four through-mortises (you can see through them) that I cleaned up over Friday and Saturday, and the process for marking and cutting the tenon to get a perfect fit is both intricate and stressful. I’ll spare the details, but as far as the pictures go, the top left is of a half-complete tenon laying on the walnut tabletop with its left-right dimension precisely matching the space for it in its mortise. In the other two pictures, if you look carefully, you’ll see that the table leg isn’t actually touching the ground. With a dry-fit, without glue, the tenon fit so well that it pressure-fit in and stayed there.


Yeah… that felt pretty good.

I started the tenon on a second leg, but I misread my notes and took the right amount of wood off the wrong sides. After being annoyed and frustrated, I decided to not just turn it 90° and let it be, and instead I took the measure of adding more material to the sides off of which I took too much, and cutting more carefully tomorrow.



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