The Essential Timber-Frame Joint
Learn from a veteran framer's technique for making large pegged mortises and tenons.
For this edition of “Master Carpenter,” builder and educator Will Beemer shows how to create a classic timber-frame joint, a large pegged mortise and tenon. Beemer begins the process by establishing a level work surface. Because timbers can be so large, it might be necessary to work on sawhorses with shorter legs. It’s also important to find the arris, or the intersection of the two sides of the timber that are square to each other. This becomes a key reference point. Cutting a tenon always begins with the shoulder and should be cut carefully. Next, cut the housing and the mortise. To finish, draw the joint tight with an offset peg. This article includes a number of sidebars, including one about a special tool of the trade that helps timber-framers to cut plumb holes using a mirror; a trick of the trade describing a process known as the French snap; and a brief guide about how to deal with timbers that are not perfectly milled and uniform.