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    Dave C

    Following on from an earlier issue I had (with my mortise angles being out from 90 degrees), I’ve now fixed the mortises, at the cost of making the whole joint very loose.

    I spent a lot of time looking on the web for solutions, and saws that some people recommended fixing the loose mortise and tenons with paper (i.e. when doing the glue up, glue a small sheet of paper to the tenon, then apply glue to it). Some people even suggested using business cards, or material from brown paper bags.

    Is this sound advice? On of the arguments for it was that paper is basically wood anyway, whereas I also saw some people arguing that the paper wouldn’t be as strong.

    This is for the small side table project, so I don’t think the mortise/tenons will be under much stress, but at the moment the joints are completely loose (by about 0.3mm on each side of the tenon cheek).

    Are there any better solutions I should know about? I also saw people suggesting to glue on a chunk of wood and to recut the tenons, but also saw people saying this was overkill if only a tiny bit of extra was needed.

    Harvey Kimsey

    I think this is an excellent idea. Paper, after all, is wood fiber. As long as you can fill the space with paper and glue and get good bonding between the wood fibers on both sides, I would think this would work fine.
    In a similar vein, I recently fixed a loose mortise and tenon by gluing a piece of hardwood veneer the the tenon. It worked great.


    I also used a paper layer, glued to the tenon cheek, to fix a rather loose tenon-mortise joint on a bench stool. Probably not good practice, but seems to work fine – as for now. At least it hasn’t come apart yet and still feels solid. But it probably would be useful to do a decent stress test on this.


    I will add that i’m not very proud of this. Will do better next time 🙂

    C White

    one option for loose joinery is to use gorilla glue. They have a product that expands to fill any gappy joinery. One other option is to glue another piece of wood to the tenon, and recut to your line.


    Paul has mentioned thenning the tenon and then glueing a thin strip of wood to thicken the tenon on a repair. A single layer of paper would work, but i would start to question more than that.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

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