How to Make Simple Mortise & Tenon Joints

How to Make Simple Mortise & Tenon Joints

Step by step on how to make traditional, simple mortise and tenon joints. a mortise and tenon joint isn’t scary. After you make a few you will be proud that you used traditional joints for your project. This quick tutorial shows you step by step how to make mortises with a router and chisels, plus how to create a perfectly fitting tenon for your joints.

Want to see the longer, detailed version? Check out my hallway table video where I show all the steps necessary to build your own table:

There are multiple types of mortise and tenon joints, from haunch tenons to wedge tenons, and everything in between. This video is basic overview on how to make a simple mortise and tenon joint. Just like there are multiple versions of this joint, there are also multiple ways to make it. Choose the method that works best for your skillset and tools.

The general rule of thumb is to make your tenons about 1/3” the thickness of the board. It’s a balance. You want a thick enough tenon that the joint is strong; however, if the tenon is too thick then the walls of the mortise are thinner, making for a weaker joint.

In this video, I show how I make mortise tenon joints. I layout my mortise with a combination square. Using a plunge router, I carve out the mortise in multiple passes until I’m at the depth that I want. I always make the mortise first. It’s much easier adjusting the tenon to fit than adjusting the mortise.

After my mortise is routed, I cut the tenons on a table saw using a flat tooth ripping blade. I cut the shoulders first and then I remove the remaining material off the cheeks. To get the right fit, I will make my tenons a tad oversized. I can then use a hand plane to sneak up on the fit.

I’m confident that there are other ways to perform these tasks. This video is a glimpse into my shop and how I make things. If you want to follow along on my woodworking journey, make sure you subscribe and hit the notification bell so you are alerted to my videos.

Here’s a list of tools and materials that I used to make this project. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
•• Tools & Materials ••
Jet Table Saw:
Diablo Ripping Saw Blade:
Starrett 6” combination square:
Starrett 12” combination square:
Bosch Router:
Narex chisels:
Leather strop:
Wood Mallet:
General Finishes Dye Stain:
Brass Setup Bars:
1/4” spiral router bit:

•• My Links ••
My Amazon Store:


  1. Chris Franklyn on May 9, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    How criminal would it be to put a round peg in a square hole? (to use that phrase). So you don’t bother squaring off the mortise and it’s effectively only glued on both sides but not the top and bottom. I know it’s not proper – but would it be enough do you think?

  2. Ludia Keppen on May 9, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    Why too hurry to show..cant finish reading the sub title..phew

  3. Quotes for life on May 9, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    Nice work sir please keep it up

  4. Berr Deddy on May 9, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    Sorry but I’ve never done mortise and tenon before and so I want to watch the video. The fast pace, having to read, and trying to watch the video at the same time is just a mess.

  5. MeasureOnceCutThreeTimes on May 9, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you, that is useful knowledge.

  6. Justin Byers on May 9, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    Man great little video Billy nicely done ✔ those are crisp 👌

  7. Burak Burak on May 9, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    Hi, can ve make mortise and tenons easily with a fixed based 6 mm Makita 3709 router?

  8. Castle Transport on May 9, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    looks so simple hahaha. I’ve got to try that in my shop