Mortise and Tenon
Wood hits just the right slot without benefit of nails in this time-honored construction feature
A mortise and tenon joint is the most basic joint in timber frame construction. Used for thousands of years to connect pieces of wood at a 90-degree angle, the mortise is a slot cut into the wood, and the tenon is its corresponding projection. It is very simple but strong. Endless variations of this joint make construction with little or no nails or glue possible.
A square mortise hole and its corresponding tenon projection is visible on the base of this table. A peg keeps the tenon from slipping out.
You can see mortise cuts on this horizontal beam. It is most likely salvaged from a timber-frame building where it was used structurally.
This post and lintel doorway has exposed mortise cuts.
Typically, a mortise and tenon joint is hidden between the timbers it connects, with a slot and groove cut to fit seamlessly together. The peg in this beam marks where the tenon exists inside the mortise hole.
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