Are you interested in learning how to cut tenons with ease? One effective method involves using a table saw equipped with a tenoning jig.
In this article, I will guide you through the process of constructing your very own DIY Tenon Jig for Table Saw using the tablesaw rip fence. The best part is that you can make this simple woodworking jig using readily available scrap materials like an MDF board and a piece of plywood, which you probably already have in your workshop.
A table saw tenon jig will help you achieve precise and accurate tenons that are essential for creating strong and sturdy joints. Whether you’re working on mortise and tenon joints, castle joints, lap joints, or even simple frame splines, this table saw jig will prove invaluable.
Throughout this article, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide, taking you through the process of building your very own table saw tenoning jig and demonstrating how to use it. Let’s get started and add another great woodworking jig to your equipment! 😉
Table Saw Tenoning Jig Video
Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make a tenon jig for a table saw.
Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- Benefits of a Tenoning Jig
- Table Saw Blade for a Table Saw Tenon Jig
- How to Build a DIY Tenon Jig for Table Saw (Step-by-Step)
- Step 1: Cut the Side Fence
- Step 2: Add T-Slots
- Step 3: Make the Slider
- Step 4: Add Fence Supports
- Step 5: Make the Workpiece Back Support
- Cutting Tenons on a Table Saw
- Woodworking Jigs Used
- Frequently Asked Questions
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
The material you will need to build it
MDF Base Board – 350mm x 320mm x 16mm (13.78″ x 12.6″ x 0.63″)
MDF Base Support 1 – 320mm x 100mm x 16mm (12.6″ x 3.94″ x 0.63″)
MDF Base Support 2 – 320mm x 81mm x 16mm (12.6″ x 3.19″ x 0.63″)
HDF Strips for T-slots – 760mm x 515mm x 16mm (29.92″ x 20.28″ x 0.63″)
Plywood strips (back support) – 265mm x 40mm x 24mm (10.43″ x 1.57″ x 0.94″)
Dewalt Table Saw
Dewalt Trim Router
Makita Circular Saw
Makita Cordless Hand Drill
Proxxon Mini Table Saw
Bessey T-track Clamps
Wolfcraft Large Square
Benefits of a Tenoning Jig
A tenoning jig is a valuable tool that enhances your woodworking capabilities, offering precise cuts, improved safety, and simplified joinery techniques.
- Precise Cuts: It ensures accurate and precise cuts, resulting in perfect tenons. It helps you achieve a high level of precision, even if you are new to woodworking.
- Improved Safety: You can securely hold the workpiece, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring safer cutting operations. The jig slides over the table saw fence, and provides stability and control, making the woodworking process much easier and safer.
- Simplified Joinery: Creating complex joints like mortise and tenon or castle joints becomes easier with a tenoning jig. It simplifies the process and helps you consistently produce uniform tenons, leading to strong and durable joints.
Table Saw Blade for a Table Saw Tenon Jig
When cutting tenons on a table saw, you have two main options for the blade: a standard table saw blade with a top bevel or a flat kerf table saw blade.
If you opt for a blade with a top bevel, keep in mind that you might need to clean the cuts afterward using a chisel. On the other hand, using a flat kerf blade can result in cleaner cuts, although some cleaning may still be required.
Alternatively, you can also consider using a stacked dado blade set. A stacked dado blade set consists of multiple blades and spacers, allowing you to adjust the width of the cut to create dadoes or grooves of various sizes.
Personally, I prefer using a standard table saw blade over a dado blade set for cutting tenons.
Let's start building!
Making a DIY table saw tenon jig involves making the side fence, T-slots for clamping, and the back support for support and flexibility.
For the side fence and the base, I’ve used an MDF board, and plywood for the back support. Using MDF allows me to easily create a perfect 90-degree angle between the jig and the saw table.
The jig uses the table saw fence and slides freely over it. You can put it on and take it off as you like.
- Material: Baltic birch plywood, MDF/HDF
- Total dimensions: 350mm x 320mm x 115mm (13.78″ x 12.6″ x 4.53″)
- Clamping and attachment: Homemade T-track bolts, Bessey T-track clamps (optionally Toggle Clamps)
How to Build a DIY Tenon Jig for Table Saw (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Cut the Side Fence
First, cut the MDF base to the desired dimensions. For the side supporting fence, I am using a 16mm MDF panel. MDF is robust, does not warp or bend easily, and has a nice smooth straight surface. I am cutting the board on a table saw, but you can also easily cut it using a circular saw straight-edge guide.
Place the board next to the table saw fence and draw a line where the top of the fence is (this will be the bottom part of the sliding box).
Step 2: Add T-Slots
Draw two T slots on the side fence and cut them using a dado jig. Then, lightly sand the slots and the edges with sandpaper.
NOTE: Make sure the slots are slightly higher than the top part of the sliding box.
Cut four HDF strips and glue them to the slots. Make sure the glue does not get in the main central dado. Additionally, you can secure the strips with screws.
NOTE: Use a push block when cutting very narrow pieces of wood. I am using the MicroJig Grr-Ripper and it works awesome.
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Step 3: Make the Slider
Cut two MDF pieces. One that is exactly the same height as the tablesaw fence and another that is slightly wider than the width of the table fence (includes the width of the side piece).
Use glue to fix all the pieces together making sure the side and the table saw are square (squareness is essential, so take all the necessary time).
Step 4: Add Fence Supports
Add back supports and insert a few extra screws for better stability.
TIP: If the fence is not square with the table you can add a few shims of paper either on the inner side of the runner or the bottom of the outer MDF piece.
Step 5: Make the Workpiece Back Support
Cut two plywood strips and glue them together (2x – 265mm x 40mm x 12mm).
Cut two slots in the center of the strip using a router and then drill a 6mm hole at the end of the strip using a drill press. This will make the back fence adjustable and you will be able to set any angle between 90 and 45 degrees both forward and backward. Attach the back support to the fence with bolts and T-nuts (you can also use a wooden knob).
Cutting Tenons on a Table Saw
These steps provide a more detailed guide on how to set up a tenon jig and how to cut tenons on a table saw.
- Position the tenon jig on the table saw fence.
- Use a speed square or digital angle finder to set the desired angle on the back support (90 degrees or an arbitrary angle).
- Secure the back support in place using bolts and nuts.
- Align the workpiece against the back support and side fence, and secure it with track clamps or toggle clamps.
- Adjust the table saw blade height to the desired level by aligning the workpiece against the side of the blade.
- Set the fence to ensure the blade cuts on the inner side of the intended cut. Sneak up on the marked line for precision.
- Begin cutting by slowly pushing the workpiece against the blade.
- Readjust the fence as needed and repeat the process until the tenon is completely cut.
When it comes to cutting tenons, making a tenon jig and using it with a table saw is a reliable and precise method. A tenon jig ensures consistent and clean cuts, making it an invaluable tool for joinery work. The best part is that you can easily create a tenon jig using materials you already have in your workshop and the entire build will not take you more than a few hours.
Make a Tenoning Jig
Jigs used for this project:
These are the tools and jigs I have used to build the jig. Not all of them are necessary but they make life easier:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a tenoning jig used for?
A tenoning jig is used to guide and hold the workpiece securely when cutting tenons on a table saw, ensuring precise and accurate cuts for strong joinery.
What saw blade to cut tenons?
For cutting tenons, you can use either a standard table saw blade with a top bevel or a flat kerf table saw blade, depending on your preference and the desired level of cleanliness in your cuts.
What are the different ways to cut tenons?
There are several ways to cut tenons, providing flexibility based on your available tools and personal preference. You can use a tenoning jig on a table saw for precision, use a router table with a straight bit, or employ hand tools like a handsaw and chisels for a more traditional approach.
How tight should a tenon be?
A tenon should fit snugly but not too tight. It should have a slight amount of resistance when fitting into the corresponding mortise, ensuring a secure and sturdy joint without excessive force required for assembly.