Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Hand Cut Mortise and Tenon

Refine your sawing, paring and layout skills making traditional mortise and tenon joints. Weekend class in hand tool joinery designed by Jim Tolpin.


Hand Cut Mortise and Tenon

Weekend Hand Tool Woodworking Series



In this weekend class, you will learn how to quickly and efficiently layout, cut and fit mortise and tenon joinery using only hand tools. 

We will show you time-tested, traditional techniques to create wedged, drawbored, and haunched mortise and tenon joints.

We also use this class to introduce you to some of the specialty joinery planes; the router plane, shoulder plane, and rabbett plane. These planes shine when it comes to tuning the fit of mortise and tenon joinery. And, since mortise and tenon joinery is key to frame and panel joinery, we introduce you to the plow plane as well.

By the end of the weekend, we think you will be convinced that not only are these joints doable by hand (it was, after all, the only way to do them up until the mid 1800’s!), but that hand work can offer a faster approach when doing a one-off piece of furniture. In any case, you will not need a dust mask, earplugs or a hardhat during the course of the class!

Class Description

  • Laying out of mortise and tenon joinery. Many of the dimensions for the joints are dictated by the tools you use not the dimensions of the wood.

  • Cutting mortises with mortise chisels, drills and bench chisels

  • Cutting tenons with tenon and carcass saws

  • Tuning / fitting mortise and tenons joints with joinery planes

  • Making wedged through tenons

  • Draw boring and making dowels to mechanically lock and tighten mortise and tenon joints

  • How to cut and make mitered and haunched joints

  • How to make angled through tenons


If you own or plan to purchase any of the following tools we encourage you to bring them along.

  • Mortise chisel (1/4"). Check Highland Hardware - the Sorby Chisels are reasonable.

  • Substantial Carpenter's, flat faced mallet (Bigger is better!). Check Lee Valley or Tools for Working Wood

  • Any of the joinery planes; Plow Plane, Shoulder Plane, Rabbett Plane or Router Plane


We do not cover basic chisel or plane sharpening - we expect students to have taken the Handplane Essentials class or have equivalent skills. We will however show you how to sharpen specialized joinery planes such as plows and routers.

Similarly we strongly recommend taking the Handsaw Essentials class before this course.

More classes in the Weekend Hand Tool Series

  1. Hand Saw Essentials

  2. Hand Plane Essentials

  3. Hand Cut Dovetails

  4. Hand Cut Mortise and Tenon

  5. Traditional Finishing

Class Information and Registration

Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday in Building #315 at Fort Worden.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $295
Materials Charge: $35

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.