Tenon cutters

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Tenon cutters

Postby AndyT » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:44 pm

I'm fairly new to Green Woodworking and am looking to buy a/some Tenon cutters. I will be making stick/log furniture (chairs, tables, coat hooks etc); I'm quite a way off making beautiful Windsors out of Ash...

The only brand I can find in the UK is the Veritas ones, but looking on the auction site I spy a 'LumberJack Tools' tenon cutter kit for similar prices. I've been in touch with the seller and he can ship a 1" cutter for the same price (all in) as a Veritas 1". Has anyone here used the Lumberjack ones, better, worse?

Also, is there any alternative tenon cutters on the market? I'm struggling to find any. Rotary/Rounding planes, and the Ray Iles tool are beyond my needs for now - rough and ready mortice & tenon stick furniture to start with!
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby gavin » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:15 pm

You can make rotary rounding planes yourself. I have never done that - too fiddly for me . I have made dowel plates which are great way to fashion dowels quickly. 81stBrat's posts are good info for home-made rounders. What size(s) do you need? Veritas kit is very good and very sale-able if you decide you don't like it or are skint. As the other brand you mention is similarly priced to Veritas, but not well-known, I'd go for Veritas. Best prices I have seen are Matthew Robinson's http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk
If 81st Brat is watching, he may even make you one to order.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby jrccaim » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:13 am

I have dealt with Veritas/Lee Valley for something like ten years and I will say they have never sold me a "turkey" (a bad tool) in that time. Totally in accord with Gavin. I have not used their tenon cutters. I assume they are on a par with the rest of their stuff. However... there is an alternative.

When I have made chairs or stools I have used rounder planes to make the tenons. I make the rounders myself. There is quite a lot of information on rounder planes on this board. Hardest part is finding the blade. A block plane blade is ideal. You can buy them new or you can haunt car boot sales. Not too much pitting on the blade, that's your ticket. You can make any old reasonably shaped blade into a rounder. The rest of it is a block of wood with a hole, the size of the tenon, drilled through it, and cut away at certain angles around the hole. The bedding angle is 45 deg as usual and the other is 30 deg. If you can afford a tenon cutter why go ahead and buy one. I find it much more fun to make rounder planes. But beware. Do not apply the tenon cutter (commercial or self-made) until the wood has dried out. Else it will be too loose. Wood shrinks, it does, as it dries out. Ask me how I learned this :) One of these days I will make a tapered tenon cutter. It is an overgrown pencil sharpener. Advantage: if you misjudge the dryness of the wood you can tap the tenon into the mortise with a mallet or club. Need a tapered reamer for the mortise, though! And also to make the tapered tenon cutter.

I may have posted this pic before and if so I apologize, but here's one of my rounders.
DSCN0261h.JPG
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Not really rocket science. Made entirely by hand. Unabashedly stole it from one of Roy Underhill's books. Should put pole-lathed handles on it but find them unnecessary, just clamp victim in vise and turn the rounder. Observe bevel up on blade. Seems to work better that way.

Now I may be eccentric. I admit it. But that is a respected British, not to say Welsh and Scottish, tradition! I would much rather go make rounders than buy tenon cutters.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby gavin » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:08 am

jrccaim wrote:Do not apply the tenon cutter (commercial or self-made) until the wood has dried out. Else it will be too loose.

If you make the tenons over-size to start with, they need not be too loose. I learnt whittling tenons to fit mortices from Mike Abbott's Going with the Grain When making stool tenons, I select 5/8" Veritas cutter. I then drill 14 mm holes and whittle the tenons to min 14.0 mm vertically and leave them at the dried-out size of approx 15.8 mm horizontally and bash them in the 14 mm holes, where they anchor tightly...

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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby AndyT » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:39 am

Thanks for the input, guys. I like the rough, ready and much cheaper idea of a home-made rounder but I was hoping to hear if anyone had used to the Lumberjack ones and how they compare to the veritas'. The reports from accross the pond are very good - I'm torn! Maybe I buy one Veritas and one Lumberjack and write up a review somewhere...
Size-wise, Ideally I would like as many sizes as possible but at around £100 a piece it may take me some time to get this 'stick/log furniture making kit together! I think 1" cutters may be too big for my needs, and a half inch cutter to small, so somewhere around 6/8ths" would probably suit; not too small, not too big.

What do most experienced stick furniture makers reccomend, what is the size most used for the pieces of furniture that sell the most?
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby mrcharly » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:36 am

jrccaim wrote: One of these days I will make a tapered tenon cutter. It is an overgrown pencil sharpener. Advantage: if you misjudge the dryness of the wood you can tap the tenon into the mortise with a mallet or club. Need a tapered reamer for the mortise, though! And also to make the tapered tenon cutter.


If you slackened off one of your screws (the ones holding the plane blade in place) and skewed the blade, wouldn't that cut a taper? Would only work on a tenon no longer than the width of the blade.

Obviously it would be better with a tapered hole, so that you could cut a longer taper. I'd have thought a tapered 'V' (which could be sawn) would work as well as a round taper.

I believe the old practice used to be to fit the legs before they were fully dried. This results in oval holes and oval tenons. Orient them in the right way and the fits gets tighter as the wood shrinks.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby gavin » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:57 am

AndyT wrote:Size-wise, Ideally I would like as many sizes as possible but at around £100 a piece it may take me some time to get this 'stick/log furniture making kit together! I think 1" cutters may be too big for my needs, and a half inch cutter to small, so somewhere around 6/8ths" would probably suit; not too small, not too big.

What do most experienced stick furniture makers reccomend, what is the size most used for the pieces of furniture that sell the most?

I took recommendation of Going with the Grain and got 5/8". If you have not bought that Going with the Grain, I strongly recommend you do so
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby mstibs » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:04 pm

I made my rounders/tenon cutter with a tapered hole. After boring the hole, I used a chairmakers tapered scraping auger (not sure, what the right word is) to taper 3/4 of the holes length. I fixed my spokeshave blades parallel to the taper on the rounder body. The two sizes I made are 1" and 5/8" ... last one was finished last Sunday.
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5/8"
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100_6835.jpg
1"
100_6835.jpg (93.71 KiB) Viewed 12787 times

Cheers!
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby jrccaim » Thu May 09, 2013 4:26 am

mrcharly wrote:If you slackened off one of your screws (the ones holding the plane blade in place) and skewed the blade, wouldn't that cut a taper? Would only work on a tenon no longer than the width of the blade.

Obviously it would be better with a tapered hole, so that you could cut a longer taper. I'd have thought a tapered 'V' (which could be sawn) would work as well as a round taper.

I believe the old practice used to be to fit the legs before they were fully dried. This results in oval holes and oval tenons. Orient them in the right way and the fits gets tighter as the wood shrinks.


Finally getting around to older posts. Interesting. Maybe you could cut a short taper that way. Need to think about that. Trouble with this is that the hole is not tapered and I am not sure the piece would guide through the hole correctly. Would certainly work for approximate work. See Jenny Alexander's site for how to make a tapered reamer out of a keyhole saw blade. I made one per his instructions. http://www.greenwoodworking.com/. Look under "tapered reamer." You are, of course, limited to the tapers available in keyhole saws, and a keyhole saw is not a common item these days, but the Japanese, bless their hearts, still make them and very nice ones too. Another alternative is a machinist's taper reamer. These are easy to find. If they will cut steel they will certainly cut wood. The bigger they are the more expensive, of course. Typically tapers in metal are much shallower than tapers in wood.

Still thinking about this, It is very easy to find a step drill. This is a cone-shaped drill approximated by steps. Very useful for drilling holes in thin stock, wood or metal. You will have steps in it, but you could maybe file the steps mooth or sand them (anathema!) or something. I vaguely remember step drills with no step at all, continous all the way. Maybe my memory is at fault. Once again you are limited by the tapers supplied by the manufacturer.

A few years ago I got a bung reamer in (gasp :) ) an antique store at (double gasp :) :) ) a very reasonable price. These things are about 1:6 or 1:7 taper. They have a short auger bit to start the bore. In the unbelievable days of old, when beer came in wooden barrels instead of plastic or aluminium kegs, these things were used to drill a tapered hole in the barrel, into which you inserted the bung, i.e. a tapered peg with a tap at the other end. Proprietor of the pub put the barrel with tap on the bar; no CO2 pressurization needed, gravity did the work of drawing your pint. I consider this tool a treasure, very well made. Hope to use it to cut some tapered holes.

I Like the idea of tapered holes, and of course tenons. If you doubt this just look up Morse Tapers on the 'net. You will be drowned by the information. If you own a pillar drill, the chuck is held in there by a Morse taper and absolutely nothing else. No grub screw, no locking pin, no glue, nothing but the taper. So in principle a tapered joint is far stronger than a cylindrical one. In wood we need much more acute tapers than in steel, because wood is softer than metal. If you let things dry out properly you can get by very well with circular holes and tenons. My dream is to build a chair with tapered holes while it it still green, and tap it in as it dries. But so far all I have is an impressive collection of failures.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby mrcharly » Thu May 09, 2013 8:45 am

That's interesting.

An alternative to a keyhole saw would be a plasterboard (drywall) saw, like this one:
http://www.screwfix.com/p/drywall-saw-6tpi-6/38939
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby emjay » Thu May 09, 2013 3:36 pm

You can make a double edged hand reamer to any angle you want by cutting the blade out of a piece of old handsaw blade. Somewhere on this forum there are photo's of one I made to ream leg holes in a welsh stick chair seat.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby emjay » Sun Oct 18, 2015 5:54 pm

I have a wonderful tenon cutter, it does infinite diameters and will even do taper tenons. It's called a pole lathe.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby robgorrell » Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:46 pm

It has been quite a while, but I have used both brands of tenon cutters. Personally I liked the single bladed Veritas cutters better. I see the advantage of the two cutter Lumberjock style in the fact that two blades can cut faster than one, but I had an awful time getting them adjusted properly. I found the single blade easier to deal with.
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Re: Tenon cutters

Postby emjay » Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:18 pm

Underside of chair. The legs are in tapered mortices. This is a strong joint and has the added advantage that the legs can be set in position before the holes are reamed full depth then any slight adjustment to the splay can be made with the reamer
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