Making Wood Joinery Mortise And Tenon Joint With Woodworking Hand Tools

By Joshua Farnsworth | (Updated 10 Oct, 2022. Originally published 27 Nov, 2013)

How to Cut Woodworking Joinery with Hand Tools

Woodworkers cut joinery (wood joints) in wood in order to get their furniture parts to stay together for a long time. Joinery is usually superior to using fasteners, like nails and screws.

Below you can see many of our free video tutorials for cutting some of the most common and popular wood joints, like mortise and tenon joints, dovetail joints, dado joints, and more. Most of these tutorials use traditional woodworking hand tools. You can click the button below each video to see the accompanying detailed articles and photos.

Cutting Dovetails with Woodworking Hand Tools (Tails First)

Dovetails are perhaps the most popular wood joint. It joins two board ends together using strong locking joinery. Have you had trouble with your hand cut dovetail wood joints? Joshua Farnsworth teaches his simple and detailed 8 step method for cutting a dovetail joint, which helps his students see a huge improvement with their dovetail joints! This dovetail tutorial shows how to cut dovetails using the “tail first” method.

How to Cut Dovetail Joints (Pins First)

In this joinery tutorial, woodworking master Frank Klausz shows his amazing and fast method for making “pins first” dovetails with hand tools.

How to Make a Mortise and Tenon Joint By Hand

Joshua Farnsworth shares a joinery multi-video series on how to make a mortise and tenon joint with woodworking hand tools. A tenon fits into a mortise to make a very strong wood joint for tables, chairs, and many other types of furniture. This style of mortise and tenon joint is used for table legs and table aprons.

How to Make Breadboard Ends for a Table

In this joinery tutorial Joshua Farnsworth and Will Myers show how to build breadboard ends for tables and desks in this two-part video tutorial on making a table top. A breadboard table end helps to prevent a table from warping during seasonal changes in humidity and temperature. You can watch the second video by clicking “read the blog post”.

How to Make a Secret Mitered Dovetail Joint

Master craftsman Kaare Loftheim shows how to build this interesting and historic wood joint in the Hay Cabinet Maker Shop at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. A secret mitered dovetail was used by 18th century craftsmen to hide the dovetail joints (which they considered “provincial” joinery) within a miter joint.

How to Cut a Groove with a Stanley 45 Combination Plane

Bill Anderson teaches how to cut a groove with a vintage Stanley 45 Combination Plane. Grooves are simple wood joints used to hold drawer bottoms, cabinet backs, and more. A groove is plowed by pushing the plow plane, or combination plane, back and forth until the groove forms at the desired depth. This video was filmed in Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School.

How to Cut a Half-Blind Lap Dovetail Wood Joint

Will Myers shows how to cut this wonderful woodworking joint with simple woodworking hand tools, while filming the Moravian Workbench video class in Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s school. A half-lap dovetail is used to join the faces of two perpendicular furniture parts together. This type of wood joinery creates a very strong, functional, and visually appealing woodworking joint.

How to Make a Shiplap Joint

In this joinery tutorial, Joshua Farnsworth teaches how to make a shiplap joint with woodworking hand tools. Shiplap joints are use for wall paneling, drawer bottoms, cabinet backs, etc. Shiplap has recently become popular through home improvement TV shows, like Fixer Upper.

How to Make a Wedged Mortise and Tenon Joint

Will Myers shows how to cut, chop, and wedge a very strong wedged mortise and tenon joint while building the historical Moravian Workbench vise at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. The wedge holds the mortise and tenon joint very tightly, which is even more necessary for a tenon that exits through the back of the mortise.

How to Make a Dado Joint with Woodworking Hand Tools

A dado joint is used to make shelves. A dado is like a groove, but it runs across the wood grain. Joshua Farnsworth teaches how to use a router plane and chisels to cut this popular wood joint.

How to Make a Rabbet Joint with Woodworking Hand Tools

Joshua Farnsworth shows how to cut a rabbet, one of the most common woodworking joints, with just a couple of woodworking hand tools. Rabbet joints are like grooves and dado joints (which run inside the board), but run along the edges of boards. A rabbet joint is useful for many applications in furniture making.

How to Make Half-Lap Dovetail Joints by Hand

At Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School, Bill Anderson teaches how to cut a half lap dovetail joint. This dovetail variation is a great joinery option for hiding drawer or box bottom grooves.

How to Make Tongue and Groove Joints by Hand

In this joinery video Joshua Farnsworth shows how to cut a tongue and groove joint with an antique Stanley No. 48 tongue & groove plane. (You can find an old Stanley #48 or a Stanley #148 tongue and groove plane on ebay).

Make Mitered London Style Dovetails

In this wood joinery video Dave Heller shares a detailed tutorial on making fancy London-style dovetails with a mitered corner. The London-style dovetail originated in, well, London where cabinetmakers sought to show off their joinery skills by cutting the finest pins possible.

Make a Tusk Mortise and Tenon Joint with Hand Tools

Will Myers shows the historical method for making a tusk mortise and tenon joint, during his Moravian Workbench build.