Mortise and Tenon – An Invisible Strength

Mortise and Tenon detail from Platform Bed. No. 2

Mortise and tenon–even the names sound a bit antiquated!  So just what and where are they?

The mortise and tenon is one of the oldest and strongest joints in a woodworking.   We utilize this joinery for strength in combination with bed bolt hardware for ease of disassembly (and even more strength.)

The mortise is a pocket cut in the long grain of the wood.  It is typically square or rectangular in shape.   The tenon on the other hand, is a square or rectangular peg on the end of a board.   This joint allows wood pieces to be fit together at a 90 degree angle.  Slightly angled variations of the joint can able be made and these are often utilized in fine
ly made chairs.   The fit of this joint is typically fine-tuned by hand, so that these will be snug, but not too snug.  Once the fit is correct, the joint can be glued permanently.

We love the mortise and tenon, and use this joinery technique throughout our beds.   In our platform beds, we have a few of these that remain visible for installation.  Instead of permanently gluing them in place, a bolt runs though the joint where the head and footboards meet the rails.  These high-quality bed bolts clamp the joint tightly in place, until the bed needs to be moved, then it can be easily disassembled.

This combination of old and newish is how we get to no-compromise strength and portability!   We just love coming up with this sort of thing.  It’s so exciting, and probably a little nerdy too!

Can you think of someone else who might be interested to learn a bit more about wood joinery or design in general?   Feel free to send them a link or simply share this post on social media!

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