The mortise and tenon is one of the simplest woodworking joints you can make. You cut a hole (mortise) in one piece of wood, carve a peg (tenon) in another piece, then tap the peg into the hole. If you sawed a slit down the middle of the peg beforehand, you can then tap in a wedge, which will force the sides of the peg against the wall of the hole. This friction creates a very strong joint without the need for nails or glue.
I used this technique to build a simple three-legged stool the other day. I ripped a piece of 2x4 in half to create the legs, then carved a tenon on the end of each leg. To make the seat, I just cut a square piece of 2x12, then sawed the corners off until I had a 16-sided shape, which I smoothed out with a knife and sandpaper. To attach the legs, I bored some 1-inch mortises into the seat with a bit brace. I angled these holes 15 degrees out from the center of the stool to give it some extra stability.
After inserting the legs and tapping some wedges into the joints, I flush-cut the tops of the tenons where they protruded from the seat. Then, I gave the entire thing a few minutes’ treatment with some sandpaper.
The finished stool is pretty nice, considering the rustic construction! I’ll probably slap some linseed oil or polyurethane on it soon.
There are many reasons. Here are a few:
In short, it’s just nice to do something simple and concretely physical that makes me slow down and appreciate things. Boring the leg holes in this stool, for instance, was not a picnic, but it was invigorating. It reminded me that I have bodily strength, good lungs, and a peaceful place to be outdoors and work. God is good!