1. Haunches tenons are typically used to fill the groove in the end of a rail on frame and panel doors. This is the result of ploughing a through groove as opposed to a stopped groove.
      I’ve never heard of anyone manufacturing the groove in order to add a haunch. I’ve always considered the haunch a solution, not an application.
      The amount of strength it adds to the joint is negligible compared to the extra work involved in creating it
      Great for skill building maybe but not particularly practical.

      1. As Matt already mentioned, the haunch helps prevent racking (twisting) of the top edge of the rail. In addition, if the shoulder joint was to open over time, due to shrinkage in the thickness of the leg, then the haunch also stops there being a completely open gap in the joint though which light might show. On a small table like this, that’s not much of an issue, but on larger tables and certainly on doors (both cabinet and room/house doors) it is an important issue. You’re right, that in paneled doors, that width of groove, mortice and haunch are usually the same, and aligned, but the haunch does do more than just fill the groove.

  1. Two comments on the mortise guides that Paul uses. First, I notice on some of Paul’s chops the mortise guide is away from the upper portion of the guide, which would cause a slight undercut of the mortise in that area. Apparently this is not much of an issue if the bulk of the chops are right along the wall.

    Second, I used this method and have had problems with the guide not sitting properly on the leg. I think this was due to my vise jaws not closing exactly right. It pays to check using a square that the guide is 90° to the mortise being chopped!!

    1. Matt,
      Great observations. I have been thinking about the guide and the problem with racking on my vise if I really were to crank it down as Paul did. My thought, for what it is worth, when I build my guide I think I will make the piece on the side as long as the jaws on my vise. This way I will get rid of the racking problem. What think you?


      1. I’ve tried several tweaks of the guide, but never got it to work any better than freehand. Considering how bad my freehand is, that’s saying a lot. I always end up shimming the tenons.

      2. I made this guide and cannot live without it anymore. As I have only one version at the moment, my mortises look the same (6mm space from edge of woodpiece), the spaces look the same, but who cares. The workpieces look good that way and do their job.
        Give it a try, but a firm, close (really firm and really close) hold is necessary. And may be an issue, but my guide has cheeks long enough for the vise.

        1. If you have problems with your vice skewing the mortise guide, you can simply use a couple clamps to secure the guide to the piece. Then place the piece to be chopped directly on your bench top. Because most of the force is downward, the wood will move around very little while you chop. But you can always clamp/hold fast your work piece to the bench top if it moves to much. I’ve chopped dozens of mortises this way, and almost prefer it, as you have to really torque the vice to hold a piece in the jaws to keep it from slipping downward as you chop.

          1. I’ve made three of these jigs now, 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″. I use them a lot and really like them. They make mortifying sooo much less stressful.
            I use a large (10″) wooden screw clamp and a hold fast to keep everything together and work on top of my bench as well. It feels much more solid than the vise and I like the extra height as well.

      3. I’ve made multiples of the mortise guides in several different thicknesses, but with the same thickness of backing board. Thus, to avoid problems with racking, I put one guide at the mortise location and the other further down the piece but within the vise jaws. The upper part of the guide holds both in place until the vise is closed.

        I use a Moxon-style vice but I think it would work just as well on a bench vise if you offset the mortise to one side and the holder toward the other. With my vise I can usually securely cut two mortises at the same time (thus why I have multiples of the same size) plus solve the racking problem. Depending on the size of the piece setting up two like this may or may not work in a bench vise.

  2. Another great video and I defiantly going to make a couple mortice guides ( 1 ) 1/4″ and ( 1 ) 3/8″, I think taht will cover and motice’s I do, or do you think I need ( 1 ) for 1/2″ as well?

    Learning some great techniques here.


    1. You don’t have to get too fancy with it, I make them up as and when I need them. They don’t last forever and it’s easier to make them to task, than to store them and then have to try to find them.

    2. Yeah, like Reece said it is just as easy to make these to task. I find they tend to go out of square as they lay around the shop over time. Maybe it’s not such a problem if you make it out of plywood, though. Probably just as much energy to make a new one as to check and resquare an old one.

  3. I got my mortises cut today and one tenon. I only have an 8″ gents saw. I think I will probably be getting a tenon saw soon. My first joint is not bad for my first time! Thank-you Paul for sharing your knowledge!


    1. If the mortise is centered then you can flip the guide and pare both sides with the jig. That said, you’ll never get the mortise centered exactly which means you’re going to have a slightly larger mortise than you anticipated. Just keep that in mind when cutting the tenon. Start “fat” and work it down to fit.
      If the mortise isn’t centered, like on the legs here, you’ll just have to do it the old fashioned way…hand and eye.

  4. Mortise jigs were a tremendous with some chairs I recently made!
    However, I need help with my table top. Can I use a hang plane to smooth it after it is glued together if it has knots in it? Last time I tried that there were a lot of tears. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Bobby, quite a few possible answers there depending on the circumstances. Sometime you can plane it all the way smooth in the same direction, sometimes you have to flip direction regularly around the knots. Other times you can plane it roughly to level by going at 45 degrees to the gran, then swap to the scraper. A cabinet scraper works very well on hard grain. Hope that helps.

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