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The Taunton Press

© 2007 The Taunton Press BUILDING FURNITURE 2 007 113



Single tenon for a wide apron?

Q: I'm building a hall table with a large drawer (for a District of Columbia phone directory). The apron is 7 in. wide with mortise-and-tenon joints where it meets the legs. Will a single tenon make the apron crack?


A: AFTER MULLING OVER THE INTENDED PURPOSE OF THE TABLE and the heavy duty it will likely serve, I recommend a double crenellated tenon: two large tenons with a shorter stub tenon in between.

One of the large tenons should be a bit loose in its mortise, allowing it and the full width of the apron or panel to move. In a table apron, the top tenon should be tight with the lower tenon loose, so that movement is directed away from the tabletop. For a 7-in.-wide apron, make the tenons about 13A in. wide each with a V2-in. haunch at the top and a Vi-in. shoulder at the bottom. This leaves 23A in. for the central stub portion. Leave about V16 in. of space in the lower mortise to allow the tenon to move.

—Mario Rodriguez teaches woodworking at workshops around the country.

Are glued legs OK?

Q: I plan to build a large, end-grain butcher-block table out of maple. I've been told that legs made from 16/4 stock would be better than glued-up legs from 8/4 stock. However, I am having no luck finding 16/4 maple nearby. On the other hand, 8/4 maple is readily available. It's not quartersawn, but it is dry and stable. I'm inclined to glue up this 8/4 stock for the legs and hope for the best. What do you think?


Make this mortise and haunch a tight fit to keep apron flush with top of leg.


Large tenon

Large tenon

^ No glue from here down

In this mortise, allow an extra Vie in. for movement of wide apron.

Stub tenon keeps parts flush.



Choosing a secondary wood

Q: I plan to build a desk with mahogany as the primary wood. I have noticed that a lot of traditional cabinets use poplar as a secondary wood, but I prefer the look of maple. Which is a better choice?


San Francisco


typically were local woods, so they vaiy from region to region. Poplar often is less expensive than maple, and it's easier to use because it is softer. These concerns influenced woodworkers in the past, and they still do today.

However, if you are willing to do the extra work and pay the difference, there is no reason why you should not use maple as a secondaiy wood.

—Chairmaker Mike Dunbar runs The Windsor Institute in New Hampshire.

1. With the jointed face on the saw's tabletop, rip the slab in two.

2. Glue the flat faces of the two pieces to make a closed book-match.

The glue-up results in at least one quartersawn face on each leg.

  1. With the jointed face on the saw's tabletop, rip the slab in two.
  2. Glue the flat faces of the two pieces to make a closed book-match.

A: BECAUSE 16/4 MAPLE is hard to come by in your area and you've already found 8/4 stock, go for it.

If your 8/4 stock is 8 in. or wider, I would flatten one face, rip it down the middle, and reglue the faces. Because the 8/4 stock is most likely flatsawn, regluing, like a closed book-match, will result in at least one veiy nice quartersawn face on each leg. Also, if the grain is relatively straight, the glueline will be hardly noticeable.

—Christian Becksvoort is a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking.

The glue-up results in at least one quartersawn face on each leg.

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