Mortise and Tenon on curved top rail


How would you go about doing the M&T joints of the back slats on a bench back with a curved top rail, like the one shown below?


Make them before you band saw the curve out.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

Thanks Jim. That makes a lot of sense!

Yes I would leave the top strait and cut the bottom to shape. That way you will not have to lug through too much wood.


Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

Yeah, I was originally thinking I would use a M&T jig for the router, which would be fine until you start getting into the curve. Even at the maximum depth for my router, it won’t reach deep enough into the curve for the middle slats (if I kept the bottom straight). If I cut the bottom to shape, the positioning in the M&T jig will be a bit sketchy. I’m thinking of using a collet extender in a router table setup, with starting and stopping points marked on a temporary plywood fence. The table top will have to have a temporary piece of plywood on top with a hole for the bit, due to the length of the board.

If you make it when it’s still square you can use the mortise as a guide to extend the depth of the mortise by drilling and chiseling the old school way.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

If you wanted an “easier” way and didnt own a HCM you could also run a rabbet across the bottom and then use spacer fillers to set the distances and fill the gaps.

I was curious as to what the plaque reads?

Regards Rob

The plaque is a memorial. “In memory of xxxx xxxxx, wonderful wife and mother. 19xx to 20xx, with love from her family.” These benches sit behind a columbarium at a local church, overlooking the St Johns river. Right now there are two, but there is room for a third. The gentleman that passed was a step father to a good friend of mine, and was just an all around great guy, so when his wife asked if I would build it, I was honored.

I’ve been working on it over the weekends, and have been fretting this part of the build. It’s just something that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to accomplish. I managed to get past it this weekend though, using A1jim’s suggestion to start the mortise with the mortising jig while it was still square, then extending it with chisel and mallet till it was deep enough to register past the curve. Then I cut the curve, and extended them a little more. Worked great. Still have a good bit of work to do, but the stressful part for me is done!

Thanks to everyone for your advice! It is appreciated!

A fitting result ! (without the pun)

Regards Rob

Glad it worked out David

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker