Post details: A Strong Argument for Loose Tenons FAQ - Part 2


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A Strong Argument for Loose Tenons FAQ - Part 2

The matching hardwood stock I received in my kit tested at 6 percent moisture, which is just about as dry as it can be in this part of the country. That’s good — if the molding shrinks too much after assembly you’ll end up with a loose fitting joint. The birch molding lay straight as a die on my bench, and came packed in 12" lengths. The individual 1/2" and 3/8" kits each contain two feet of molding.

One nice thing I discovered was the length of the tenon is only limited by the length of your drill bit. The beadLOCK jig itself places no limits on length. That means that, for small assemblies, you can use perhaps an inch of molding, while in large joints like tables or desks, a three or four inch long tenon can be used.

About the only thing I didn’t like about this system is that the shim package, designed to offset the jig for stock that’s thicker than 3/4", was made of plastic. I would have preferred steel.

Overall Impressions
I made several mortise and tenon joints in various species and thicknesses of stock, all without any mishap. Each of the joints I constructed fit like a glove. I followed the manufacturer’s instructions (beadLOCK is made by the Journeyman Tool Company of Horicon, Wisconsin) and trimmed the tenon stock 1/8" shorter than the combined depth of the two mortises: doing this, all my joints closed perfectly under clamping pressure. It didn’t take long to discover that such tight joinery doesn’t require a whole lot of extra glue. My suggestion is to mask the joint to collect the excess squeeze-out.

Once the beadLOCK is clamped in place it’s a simple matter to switch from position A to position B and drill the holes required for your tenon stock.The system requires that you clamp the jig to the work, then lock the guide block in place and drill three holes for the 3/8" stock (or just two for the 1/2" molding). Then you loosen the jig, slide the block to the right and lock it down before drilling the last two holes. I found the holes come out more evenly if you drill the first set of holes twice before moving the block, then slow the drill speed down on the second set of holes.

All in all, my impressions of the beadLOCK system were overwhelmingly positive. This simple jig brings mortise and tenon joinery within the reach of all skill levels, providing an inexpensive way to produce perfectly fitting, repeatable, error-free joints every time, with nothing but a drill and saw.

Overall ImpressionsThere are three steps to using beadLOCK's system. With the stock to cut to size, begin by drawing a witness mark across both pieces, right where the center of the joint should lie.


Overall ImpressionsNext, clamp the jig to each part in turn, lining it up with the witness marks. Drill holes with the jig at the "A" setting, then switch to the "B" setting and complete the drilling.


Overall ImpressionsThe third step is to cut the tenon stock to length and dry assemble the joint to check the fit. Then you're ready to glue up and clamp the mortise and tenon joint together.


Overall ImpressionsLoose tenon stock (available in 3/8" and 1/2" dowel diameters) should be trimmed about 1/8" shorter than the combined depths of the mortise to allow for glue relief. For offset joints, where the mortise isn't centered on a standard piece of 3/4" thick stock, the factory provides a set of shims.

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