The mortise and tenon joint is one of the strongest and most used joints in woodworking. The joint provides a robust and tight connection that may last for hundreds of years. Its uses are wide-ranging from making tables and chairs to doors, frames, and cabinets.
There are multiple ways how to make a tenon. You can cut it on a table saw using a crosscut sled or a dedicated tenoning jig, you can make it the traditional way using a chisel and a saw, or you can use a router together with a tenon jig. In this article, you will learn how to make a tenon jig for a router table.
The tenoning jig built in this article is designed for a benchtop router table. It is mainly intended for crosscutting and making tenons on narrow wood pieces. The narrower the wood piece, the harder it is to keep the stock perpendicular to the router table fence. The tenoning jig holds the stock firmly at a 90-degree angle to the fence and the router bit ensuring the cuts are clean, square, and precise.
The jig works as a tenon sled for a router table. It can slide in a miter slot or can be used against the side of the table as a reference. To achieve the best results, it is good to use a sacrificial block to prevent wood tearing and blowout.
The build is made of Baltic birch plywood and HDF. All the materials are easily available.
Read on to find out how to make a tenon sled for a router table, how to set it up, and how to use it.
DIY Router Table Tenon Jig Video
If you want to build a router tenon sled, watch the video below with a step-by-step guide and detailed steps.
Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the mortise and what is the tenon?
- What are the different ways of creating a mortise and tenon?
- How do you make a tenon with a router?
- How to Make a Tenon Jig for a Router Table
- Step 1: Make the Sled
- Step 2: Make the Back Fence
- Step 3: Make the Front Fence
- Step 4: Make a Hold-Down Clamp
- How to Use a Tenoning Jig for a Router Table
- Woodworking Jigs used for the project
*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!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
What you'll need to make a Router Table Tenon Sled
Router Tenon Jig Base
HDF base board – 29m x 17cm x 0,5cm
Spruce wood Strip – 26cm x 1,8cm x 2,8cm
Beechwood Strip – 26cm x 0,7cm x 0,6cm
Tenon Jig Back Fence
Plywood – 4,5cm x 17cm x 1,2cm
HDF Strips – 0,8cm x 17cm x 0,4cm
DIY T-track bolts
DIY Hold-down Clamp
Tenon Jig Front Fence
Aluminum bar- 7cm x 3cm x 0,2cm
DIY T-track bolt
Wood Screws, Washers, Bolts, T-nut
Wood Glue, Epoxy
Straight router bit
Threaded rod 6mm
Makita Circular Saw
Dewalt Trim Router
Proxxon Mini table
Makita Angle Grinder
Bosch Hand Drill
What is the mortise and what is the tenon?
A mortise is an entrance, the hole of the joint. The tenon is the protrusion that fits into the mortise creating the joint.
What are the different ways of creating a mortise and tenon?
There are multiple ways how to create the mortise and tenon joint. Traditionally, the mortise and tenon joint is made by using hand tools such as a marking gauge, a wood chisel, a hand saw, and a mallet.
With the advent of modern electric tools, you can also make the joint using a table saw, a trim router, or a band saw. You can equip the tools with woodworking jigs that allow for repeatable cuts, thus allowing you to make the joints faster with the same quality.
How do you make a tenon with a router?
There are two main approaches to making a tenon with a router. You can either use the router as a stationary tool, such as a router table, and move the workpiece against the router, or use the router as a moving component and fix the workpiece.
Both approaches will use different types of woodworking jigs. In the first case, when the router is fixed, you can cut a tenon using a router tenon sled. In the second case, you can cut a tenon using a stationary mortise and tenoning jig.
Let's start building!
The router tenon sled consists of 3 main parts – the sled, the back fence with securing elements, and the front fence. The sled is made of HDF, the back fence of plywood, and the front fence of spruce wood.
Router Tenon Sled properties:
- Material: HDF, Plywood, Spruce wood
- Total dimensions: 29m x 17cm x 8,5cm
- Back fence with T-tracks for additional accessories
- Maximum adjustment distance of clamping width: 14cm
- Can be used to cut short pieces as well as long pieces
NOTE: The base sled is made of a narrower HDF board (29m x 17cm x 0,5cm) with a custom t-track so that the maximum bit length can be used. Nevertheless, you can also make the base from a 9mm or 12mm plywood board with a standard t-track miter track.
This is a project for a beginner/advanced woodworker. Many areas require precision and increased attention to ensure an accurate and clean cut.
How to Make a Tenon Jig for a Router Table
1. Cut the t-track
Cut a t-track in the base board. Use an adjustable router dado jig to cut an exact-width dado. Make sure the aluminum bar is flush with the base board.
NOTE: I am using a 5mm thick HDF board. That is because I want to use the maximum length of the router bit. Although this makes the build a bit more complicated. Using a thicker board would make it easier to create the t-track.
2. Attach the guiding fence
Cut 2 wooden strips and glue them to the bottom of the base. One (spruce), that runs along the edge of the router table, and the other (beech) that runs in the router table slot. Use flush head screws, if you are going to additionally secure the side guide.
Measure and attach the guides so that it extends slightly over the router bit. Once the glue dries cut off the wood excess.
NOTE: You can use any type of wood. I used the leftovers I found in the shop.
Step 2: Make the Back Fence
Glue 4 plywood strips together and make a t-track. You can easily route the slots on the router table. Make sure the front side is straight and perpendicular to the base.
Glue the back fence to the base board. Use a square to make sure it is perpendicular to the cut edge (perpendicular to the router bit).
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Step 3: Make the Front Fence
Cut the aluminum bar to size and round the edges for a better slide in the track. Make a t-track bolt and glue it to the aluminum bar with epoxy to ensure a firm connection (wood glue is not sufficient).
NOTE: Make sure the height of the bar and the bolt is lower than the height of the base board.
Cut the fence to size a drill a hole in for the t-track bolt. Mount it on the base and secure it with a wing nut.
Step 4: Make a Hold-Down Clamp
Cut a plywood piece to size, add a t-nut for attachment, a cut a slot for adjustability.
Mount the piece on the back fence using a t-track bolt and a wing nut. Run through the t-nut a threaded rod with a permanently attached wing nut at the (top) end and attach another piece of wood on the other side of the rod for pushing. You can add a non-slip mate to the bottom of the piece for better fix and security.
Below is a picture of a finished router table tenon sled. A great jig for cutting tenons on large as well as small workpieces.
How to Use a Tenoning Jig for a Router Table
The steps provided below describe how to set up a tenon jig for a router table and how to use it. Make sure you are using all the necessary protective equipment. Especially safety glasses and a face mask. When using a router table, chips may fly away at high speeds, which can cause serious injury.
For a better understanding of how to set up and use the jig, refer to the video above.
How to use a tenon jig for a router table
- Mount the tenon sled on the router table
- Place the workpiece on the sled and push it against the back fence
- Set the stopper to the desired position
- Secure the workpiece with a hold-down clamp
- Secure the workpiece with the front fence
- Use the right router bit for the job
- Slowly make the cut
TIP: To achieve the best result when cutting use a sacrificial piece of wood. Place it between the workpiece and the back fence. The sacrificial block will help to prevent a blowout at the back of the workpiece.
Router Table Tenon Sled Improvements
An oscillating tool such as a trim router can cause serious injury, so all safety precautions must be observed. In particular, it is necessary to protect the eyes, or possibly the entire face. Wood chips flying away from the router reach high speeds and can fly up to a distance of several meters.
You can add dust-proof plexiglass on the side of the jig right above the router bit to prevent wood chips from flying in your face. Also, you can add additional hold-down clamps to securely fix the cut piece in position.
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