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How to Make a Wedged Tenon Joint

A mortise and tenon joint is often used because of its structural integrity and holding power. Learn how to build a knock-down version, known as a wedged tenon joint.

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making a wedged tenon joint
  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Learn About the Joint

The joint actually has two mortises. One board has a small mortise cut all the way through it. This board also has a tenon cut into it, which fits into the mortise in the center of the second board (Image 1). The first mortise ends up being recessed slightly into the larger mortise. The wedge, which is tapered, slides into the smaller mortise (Image 2). Driving the wedge into the mortise holds the piece together.

Step 2: Cut the Small Mortise

Use a mortiser to cut the small mortise first. Drill all the way through the board. Don’t cut the shoulders for the tenon first -- if this is done there will be no support for the board when attempting to cut the mortise later.

use mortiser to cut small mortise first

Step 3: Cut the Tenon Shoulders

Use a dado stack on a table saw to cut the shoulders for the tenon. Start in the middle of the shoulder and work outward. Keep making passes until the shoulder is complete. Then cut the other side of the shoulder.

cut shoulders for tenon

Step 4: Cut the Large Mortise

Return to the mortiser. In a second board, cut a mortise large enough for the tenon to fit through.

Step 5: Make the Wedge and Assemble

Use a band saw to make the wedge. It is flat on one side and tapered on the other.

Put the pieces together to create a knock-down mortise and tenon joint.

use band saw to make wedge

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