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Shed Doors 2: Big Tenons


Last summer, I added a small shed to my old garage. I hung some temporary plywood doors, and built the real doors in the shop here at American Woodworker. Here's a link to the first part of the story: Shed Doors 1.

I've mortised the stiles, and now it's on to the rails' tenons.

Maybe I've got waste on the brain, but I thought I'd remove most of the tenon waste first, before making the precision cuts. I went through the same extra work by pre-drilling the mortises.

First thing, I set up the resaw blocks on our 16" bandsaw. Nothing fancy here–the blocks are just a shop-made tall fence and a small box. The piece of maple clamped to the fence is a stop block.

Here's the cut, the first step in removing the tenon's cheeks. This piece, by the way, is eight inches tall, so this is a substantial cut. No problem with a 3 hp motor and a 1" carbide-tipped blade, but it wouldn't be too bad on a 14" machine with a 1/2" blade, either. The block on the left side of the rail keeps the rail absolutely upright and tight to the fence, in case you were wondering.

Step 2 in hogging off the waste is a cut on the tablesaw, using a crosscut sled. I elevated the rail by placing it on a piece of melamine so the cutoff wouldn't get trapped. That's why the stop block is elevated, too. This cut is about 1/8" shy of the actual shoulder.

Here are all the cutoffs. Better that they're a bunch of pieces of solid wood than clouds of sawdust, right? Anyway, that's what I told myself after going through these last two steps. One can always rationalize. And I love messing about with tools.

Next stop, the tablesaw again, but this time with a dado set. The first thing I did was to cut a test piece, face side down, to test the height of the blade.

Here's the test piece sitting on one of the stiles. The stile's face is on the left side. I know the dado set's height is right when the face of the test rail is flush with the groove. Well, maybe that sounds complicated, because the rail is backwards, but it's easier than measuring!


With the dado set OK, I cut all the tenons with the rails face down. I set the tablesaw fence to serve as a stop, so all the tenons are 2-1/2" long.

Next, I flipped the test piece over and made a cut from the back side, then measured the resulting tenon with a dial caliper. Well, I didn't get it nuts on the first try, of course. I had to fiddle with the blade's height to get it right–just a little bit under 1/2".

More about the tenons in the next blog. Isn't this exciting? Gee, only a woodworker would think so.

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