Everything you need to know about mortise and tenon joints

Mortise and tenon joints has been in existence for thousand years to join pieces of wood together mainly when adjoining pieces that meet at right angles. The basic type consists of a mortise hole and a tenon tongue, though there are many variations of the type of joint. mortise and tenon joints are simple and strong.


The tenon which is formed at the end order to lock the joint in place, it may be glued, pinned, wedged

The video below shows how to cut mortise and tenon joints:



Apart from woodworking, mortise and tenon joint is also used in other fields like blacksmiths and stonemasons. This joint been widely use on wood components such as beam, roof frames, structs and brackets. The mortise and tenon joint (interlock) performed on them were made to perfectly fit without using any mechanical fasteners or glues. This enables the wood to expand and contract due to humidity. This joint is also an old method of constructing a wooden lining of water wells.

Read: Everything you need to know about woodworking joints

Different types of mortise and tenon joints:


A mortise is a cavity cut into a timber piece in order to receive a tenon. Below are the various types of mortises and tenons performed in woodworking:

Open mortise: this type of mortise has only three sides.

Stub mortise: it is a shallow mortise; its depth is determined by the size of the timber and the mortise does not go through the workpiece.

Through mortise: this mortise passes entirely through a piece

Wedged half-dovetail: in this mortise, the back is wider, or taller than the front. The space for the wedge initially creates space for the insertion of the tenon. The wedge prevents the withdrawal of the tenon after being engaged.

Through-wedged half-dovetail: in this mortise type, it passes entirely through the piece.

Read: Everything you need to know about lap joints

mortise and tenon joints


Tenon is a projection on the end of a timber piece which design to fit in a mortise when inserted. It is usually wide but taller than the wideness. Below are the various types of tenon cut by woodworker:

Stub tenon: the depth is depending on the size of the timber piece and the tenon is shorter than the width of the mortise piece so it does not show.

Through tenon: the through types of tenon passes entirely through the piece of wood it is inserted into. It tenon will be clearly visible at the backside.

Loose tenon: the tenon is a separate part of the joint which is opposed to a fixed tenon that is an integral part of one of the pieces to be joined.

Biscuit tenon: the tenon is like a thin oval piece of wood, shaped like a biscuit

Pegged or (Pinned) tenon: in this type of tenon, a peg or dowel pin is drive in through one or more holes drilled through mortise side wall and tenon. This help to strengthen the joint. it common in timber framing joints.

That’s for this article which contains the definition, application, types, as well as how to cut mortise and tenon joints. I hope the knowledge is attained, if so, kindly comment, share, and recommend this site to other technical students. Thank!

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