Forming double tenons

Today’s post is about the Essex County cupboard project, not about birds. For a change…

end frame underway

The end frames to the lower case are characterized by the tall/deep/wide upper & lower rails. My notes from the research we did all those years ago note that these rails use double tenons, instead of one great 7 1/2”” to 8” tenon. There’s no “haunch” or filler between the tenons. In one of the cupboards I was able to see light between them. So here’s how I cut them. It’s like most tenons I cut, with one or two extra steps. But there’s lots of new readers here, so I’ll show most of the process.

To start with, I layout a full-width tenon with a mortise gauge. In this case, a 3/8″ tenon set in 7/16″ from the face.


Cutting it is just like any of my tenons, starting with slightly undercutting the front tenon shoulder.

sawing front shoulder at a slight angle

Then instead of sawing the cheeks, I split them off.


And pare the resulting tenon faces front & back. Usually I choose a heavy, 2″ framing chisel.


Now comes the extra step – sawing out the stuff between the tenons. I use a fine-tooth turning, or bow, saw to cut out the waste. I stay above the shoulder, leaving some to be chopped out with the chisel.

turning saw

a detail of that step –

turning saw detail

Daniel & I put together a video that shows some of the steps. and it’s less than half-an-hour for once.

But I didn’t show you the (yellow-shafted) northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) outside the shop window two days ago:


(pt 12 Essex County cupboard project 2021)

5 thoughts on “Forming double tenons

  1. Nice post about tenons, but what I really want to know is have you seen many hummingbirds? We’re having a good bird season here in SE Michigan so far except we’re a little sparse with the hummingbirds. How is it in MA?

    • Yes, Paul – we’ve had normal numbers of them around. Not crawling with them, but one or two at a time. Which I’m told means there’s four or more around..something like that. They only come to our feeders a little bit this time of year. Later in the summer they’re at the feeders more. But – it has been a weird spring so far. Today – 47 degrees & 25mph northeast wind. so COLD. I have a heavy sweater on right now, not shorts & a T-shirt.

  2. I do love the flickers. I heard them every day in Maryland last week, and saw a few bobbing white rumps crossing the open spaces. Everything is cool about flickers, I think– their call, their flight, their spectacular markings…

  3. I was looking through ‘Bird Houses Boys can Build’ today on Project Gutenberg and wondered what a Flicker was (not something we have in the UK). Now I know!

    If you do not know it it’s a 1916 book on building different types of bird houses, bird feeders etc. Interesting. Well, if you like that sort of thing 😁. ( I love Project Gutenberg but try to stay away – I could lose weeks in there.

    I always find something interesting on your blog, and enjoy your forays into wildlife too. Thank you for taking the time to share both on here and YouTube.

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