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Mortise and Tenon Joints

Mortise and Tenon Joints

A mortise and tenon joint is a very strong, yet uncomplicated method of joining two pieces of wood, usually at right angles.

Are Mortise and Tenon Joints a New Invention?

No, the joint is truly ancient. It has been used for many thousands of years, due to its sheer simplicity. It was found on a ship that is about 4,500 years old that was part of the king’s death possessions in the Giza pyramid complex.

Other ancient examples include archaeological data that the Chinese were using mortise and tenon joints by the end of the Neolithic age.

How Are Mortise and Tenon Joints Made?

The principle is based around a friction fit of one piece of wood into a hole in another piece of wood. The end of one piece is narrowed down, this then becomes the tenon. A hole is then made in the second piece of wood of exactly the same size as the tenon (no bigger), this is known as the mortise. The tenon is then hammered into the mortise to form a tight friction joint. If done correctly, this joint will not need any glue or pinning, meaning that the wood can expand and contract with heat or humidity without cracking.

Unglued mortise and tenon joints are just as much a sign of quality in furniture as dovetail joints, as since glue has become readily available only highly skilled joiners are using the true art of the mortise and tenon joint.

How Can I Tell If Mortise and Tenon Joints Are Being Used?

You can't. Well, not by sight anyway! A perfect mortise and tenon joint, as used in the constuction of hardwood furniture, will be invisible once the piece is complete. The only real way to find out is to ask.

Related Articles

As well as this article we also have articles providing information on Oak furniture, Ash furniture, Birch furniture, Pine Furniture, and Indian Furniture. If you like these articles you may also find our article on the characteristics of hardwood furniture article invaluable.

If you already have a range of hardwood furniture in your home, our articles on treating hardwood furniture, repairing hardwood furniture, joinery and specifically dovetail joints will help you get the most out of your furniture, and spot quality when shopping in furniture.

Other articles on offer at Oak Furniture Land include our rustic furniture, teak furniture, wood and hardwood furniture, classic traditional furniture and contemporary modern furniture will also help you differentiate between the different styles of hardwood furniture available.

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