Cabinet Doors

I have been building some doors for a built-in cabinet and bookshelf project.  Each corner of these doors are held together with something called a haunched mortise and tenon joint.  So what is that and who cares anyway?  Well, a joint is any place where two pieces of wood connect.  Joints can be super, duper simple (like nails) or crazy complex.  I almost always choose to cut joints that stay together without nails or screws.  Such joints are stronger, more durable, and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.   Seriously, though, while there are simpler ways to build a door (biscuit joints, domino joints, screws, glue and optimism), I choose to use hand cut joinery for a number of reasons.  For one, it is important to me to carry on this centuries old technique.  Also, this type of joinery creates a strong door that resists wracking (distortion caused by changes in humidity and temperature).  So it a superior product that makes me feel good inside.  That’s a win-win.

I won’t go through the whole process of laying out and cutting a mortise and tenon joint.  But let me give you a walk-through.  Here is a mortise (hole) cut into a door stile.  I made this mortise using a drill press, a chisel, and a hammer.

door mortise

Here is the mating tenon, which I cut with a type of handsaw called a back saw.

door tenon

The tenon needed a tiny bit of cleaning up with chisel. (Don’t know why this picture look like a still shot from a dream sequence.)

trimming tenon

And here is the door fit together.  I used liquid hide glue to reinforce the joints.

door gluing up

This door is slightly over-sized.  Once the glue dries, I will take the clamps off and trim off those ears on the bottom.

Thanks for reading. Keep well.

A Week Learning from the Best

I just returned from an awesome week studying advanced trim carpentry at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking outside Indianapolis.  I can’t recommend this place highly enough for anyone interested in woodworking–or any kind of making for that matter.  The class I took was taught by Gary Striegler (  It covered casing doors and windows, wainscoting, curved entryways, simple and layered crown molding, and baseboard.  Some of this stuff I have done lots of before, but he helped us take it to the next level. The class was demanding and wonderful.  Take a class with Gary if you can.  You won’t regret it.  And if you want to see just how beautiful trim work and built-ins can be, check out his website.  You will only find a few pictures of me and my work below.  As I ramp up this website I have to get in the habit of taking more pictures, which is hard for me because I hate stopping the action to take a picture (or worse, ask someone else to take a picture of me).