This video answers three common questions from people reading “The Stick Chair Book” or watching the “Build a Stick Chair” video.
Question 1: How do you set your tenon cutter to make a 2-1/4″-long tenon?
Question 2: And why are all your tenons 2-1/4″ long?
Question 3: Why do all the short sticks in the book and video start out at 12-1/2″ long?
As always, the feedback and questions are helpful. Things that I thought were obvious were obviously not obvious. So I hope this helps fill in a couple gaps.
— Christopher Schwarz
31 thoughts on “True Facts About Round Tenons”
Chris, I assume your 12 1/2” length is your final length, which would mean your first stick accounts for the 1/2” or so you lopped off on your first tenon cut. Correct?
No, and I’m sorry if that confused. Making the plug/stop for the tenon cutter is a one-time thing.
All my short sticks start as 12-1/2″ long. That gives me a 2-1/2″ tenon at one end, 8″ of facets/swelling/shoulder in the middle, and a 2-1/4″ tenon on the other end.
After I shape the short sticks, I cut the tenons to their final length. The length depends on where they are to go in the chair.
I hope this makes sense.
Perfect sense, although once you have put the plug in the tenon cutter, wouldn’t all the tenons be 2 1/4”? (Rather than 2 1/4 on one end and 2 1/2 on the other) Thanks and sorry if I am being dense or stuck in semantic land.
Yes, all the tenons are 2-1/4″. So 2-1/4″ plus 8″ plus 2-1/4″ equals 12-1/2″.
I was promised there would be no math.
It’s a one time thing because you’re bottoming out the tenon cutter on the stick, not up against the vise (this was unclear to me for a half second) so the first step is making a maximum “make-able” tenon, and generating a plug through measurement after that.
I so enjoy your way with words
for through tenons, why not just leave them the full length and trim short after assembly? are there hidden mortises in some chairs that are shallower than 2 1/4″?
At 2:43 you seem to have misspoken and added confusion to the issue… Yes?
Moxon arrived in my mail box yesterday. I look forward to reading it! Thank you for your efforts.
You are correct. I misspoke and forgot to use the corrected audio. A corrected video is now posted.
Can we have more of these True Facts series 😀
Good video. Leads to another question, though. I have the Veritas tenon cutter. Would it be possible to do a quick piece on adjusting it? So far, when I try to micro-adjust it (to make the tenon better fit the hole), it seems that when I re-tighten the blade screw, the blade moves. I dread the day I have to take it apart to hone the cutter and then get it back to accurate. Because I think it will be a whole day…
Make what you consider to be the perfect tenon. Cut that sucker short, label then paint it some screaming butt ugly color or pattern that will let you know this is your master blade setter thingy. Then throw it in your toolbox. You have permission to make more than one, or one for each drill bit, whatever.
As my old journalism teacher said: “a fact is a fact.” No need to modify fact with the word true. If something is not true it is not a fact.
It’s a reference to series of silly videos that I love.
Made me laugh. Now I have yet more videos to watch.
I’ll have to admit I was disappointed not to hear you mispronounce something or to call out to Jerry…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJm6nDnR2SE is my fave (true facts about the Tapir)
Why did you select the radius cutter instead of the tapered one? A specific reason or just preference?
I bought my tenon cutter about 2000. That was all they made.
Thank you. If you were to buy today, would you have a preference?
Sorry, its probably just me, but I wasn’t confused until I watched your video. I have the Stick Chair Book and have watched the Stick Chair Videos. I don’t see where it says that you always make your short sticks 12.5” and tenons 2 ¼” long. Maybe it is there and I missed it?
What I do see in the Stick Chair Book is…..
Page 286: 12” sticks.
Page 287: THE LENGTH OF THE STICKS: Depth of mortise in seat + space between seat and armbow + thickness of arm + 1/4″.
Page 289: Now I know the final length of every stick and how long the tenons need to be. At this point I cut all my sticks to their finished length. I number each stick and each mortise in the arm so they can be reunited at assembly time.
Page 494, Low Back Stick Chair: Short sticks are 11 1/4”
Page 518, Six Stick Comb Back: Short Sticks are 11 1/8”
Page 536, Comb Back with Bent Arm: Short sticks are 11 1/8”
To make this actionable, do you recommend making all of the short sticks 12.5” and then fitting them later? Or is the best course to measure them individually?
Does the creative process become diluted by using a systematic approach? Can changing tools and methods be a pathway to new expressions in design? Which came first, the design or the methods of making the design?
Or do the built-in limitations encourage creativity?
I think the practical math used in design (e.g., proportions, progressions, curves) is ultimately constrained by the available tools and processes.
For example, a tradesman with a half set of hollows and rounds is constrained compared to one with a full set of hollows and rounds…
Simple examples where modern power tools fail compared to hand tools would include: not being able to cut saw kerf wide dovetail sockets; not making sharp inside corners in machine made “carvings,” not being able to remove a 1/000th or 2 from a surface, or minutes of angle, to achieve a “perfect” fit during assembly.
Interesting examples of how modern tooling can only get you so far compared to hand tools can be found on the Kibler’s Longrifles channel on YouTube. The designs are sometimes 250 or more years old and the modern execution often leaves a lot to be desired.
Sorry, we couldn’t find that page
Looking forward to part 2 of this post: “Alternate facts about round tenons” 😉
For someone without a lathe, would you recommend using one of the 2″ Veritas Power Tenon Cutters for the legs of the “Worktable” featured in the Anarchist’s Design Book?
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