Medieval Joinery : The Wedged Tenon
In some styles of furniture the mortise and tenon joint is made a more or less effective feature, usually after the fashion shown in the accompanying illustration. This style of jointing was prevalent in mediaeval times, when articles of furniture were constructed strongly and without the aid of glue and screws, now such convenient things in the operations of the amateur joiner. The form of jointing now under consideration can be employed today in a certain common-sense class of designs, notably those of a medieval character, and generally with quite an artistic effect; and it has the advantage of being thoroughly practical and serviceable. This method of jointing will be found shown in Plates I (wall bookcase plan) , II (hanging plate rack), VI (hall table plan), VIII (square tea table plans), and XV, (library table).
In the picture the manner of forming the tenons is indicated by the dotted lines, which extend, and show the form of, the end of the horizontal piece A.
When this horizontal piece is sufficiently thin it will not be necessary to reduce it in the tenons, in the manner indicated by the dotted lines. Except in very heavy work, it is not desirable to have the tenons above three-quarters of an inch in thickness. In forming the tenon, it must be carefully dressed on all its sides, and shaped in any desirable fashion at its end : simple chamfers produce a good effect, as shown in the illustration.
The manner in which the tenon must be perforated for the reception of the holding-wedge is clearly shown. The perforation must have a slight inclination in front, to accord with the slope of the wedge, and it should be carried slightly within the face of the vertical piece B, so as to allow the wedge to pull the joint absolutely tight.
The wedge should always be made of some very hard wood, such as ebony or rosewood : this is desirable on both practical and artistic grounds. The wedge should, at first, be made longer than is necessary; and when driven tight in the tenon and against the face of the piece B, it should be marked on both sides of the tenon, and subsequently cut to the desired length and cleanly finished at its ends.
The mortise must be very accurately and cleanly cut through from the face of the piece B, so as to avoid any chipping of its exposed front edges. When properly formed, this joint requires no glue, but it may be applied if deemed desirable. It may be added that the mortise must not be glued; and no glue should be laid on the exposed portion of the tenon.
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