Hand Cut Mortice & Tenons
with Steve Habersetzer, Jim Tolpin & Faculty

Basics of Woodworking Series Level: Beginner


In this weekend intensive, you will learn how to quickly and efficiently layout, cut and fit mortice and tenon joinery using only hand tools. (Anglicisms are intentional)

We will show you time-tested, traditional techniques to create wedged, draw-bored, and tusked through 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 mortice and tenon joinery. And, since, mortice 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

Still under development but will at least cover:

  • Laying out of Mortice and Tenon joinery. Many of the dimensions for the joints are dictated by the tools you use not the dimensions of the wood.
  • Cutting mortices with mortice chisels, drills and bench chisels
  • Cutting tenons with tenon and carcass saws
  • Tuning / fitting mortice and tenons joints with joinery planes
  • Making wedged through tenons
  • Draw boring and making dowels to mechanically lock and tighten mortice and tenon joints
  • Techniques and design options for tusked mortice and tenon joints
  • How to cut and make mitred and haunched joints


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

  • Mortice chisel (5/16" or 3/8"). Check Highland Hardware - the Sorby Chisels are reasonable.
  • Substantial Carpenter's, flat faced mallet (Bigger is better!). Check  Lee Valley or Traditional Woodworker
  • Any of the joinery planes: Plough Plane, Shoulder Plane, Rabbett Plane or Router Plane


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

We strongly recommend, but do not require, taking the Hand Saw Essentials class before this course.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read out registration policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $260
Materials Charge: $15

2014 Class:

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.

October 25 - 26, 2014 Hand Cut Mortice and Tenons Register


If you'd like to ask questions - please feel free to contact  us - (360) 344-4455 or by email.

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Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades Copyright © 2007-2014. All rights reserved.

200 Battery Way | Fort Worden | Port Townsend, WA 98368 | (360) 344-4455 | email

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Any donations made to the School are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.