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Homemade Tenon Jig

for the table saw

©2003-2004 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas, USA

Everyone loves the Delta tenon jig that Norm uses on New Yankee Workshop. But it costs $100. And it seems so simple. So I made one of my own that works great. I've never used a commercial tenon jig, so the Delta jig may be better than mine, but mine works, took just a few minutes to build, and didn't cost anything but a few pieces of scrap wood.

The first board - A in the sketch - is the work surface. It rides along the table of the saw. In my version it is a scrap of oak plywood, about 11 inches square. It needs to be deep enough to be stable front-to-back, and have a perfect right angle at the lower front, so the vertical guide strip B is really vertical. That guide strip is hardwood, and sticks out just far enough to align the workpiece, about 3/8 inch.

Board E rides on the other side of the rip fence. It only needs to be slightly higher than the fence, but needs to be long - in addition to holding the work surface in place left to right, it provides stability as the jig slides past the blade at the back of the saw. In the photos you see mine is long, but if I built a new jig, I would make that piece even longer - positioned farther to the front, to balance the jig and provide a handle when it moves past the blade.

My rip fence is 2 inches wide, so board C is 2 inches wide, to hold boards A and E tight to both sides of the rip fence. Board C rides just above the fence, not on the rip fence itself. We want A and E to provide the alignment on the surface of the table saw, not on the top of the rip fence. Some countersunk screws hold both boards to C. Of course, when one board is holding the other two like the letter H (viewed from the front) the combination won't be very stable. So one more board, D, the same width as C, but mounted vertically, makes the whole setup solid. Wax the inside of A and E, where they ride on the rip fence, and it is ready to go.

This is how the actual jig looks from the left side

and when viewed from the right

In normal use I can clamp the board to the jig, or realistically, in most cases there is plenty of clearance to just hold it.

Sometimes people ask how I get the nice slope to my box lids. Here is the secret. The blade is tilted about 10-15 degrees, and a slope is cut on all four sides of the top. Then some simple sanding. The blade is much higher, so finger clearance is a lot less, so I do recommend using a clamp.

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©2003-2004 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.