WoodCentral's video reviews
Hand-Cut Mortise and Tenon

Hand-Cut Mortise and Tenon
by Rob Cosman

American Craftsman Productions: 2005
2-DVD set, 2 hr. 7 min. each, US$40.00 CDN$49.95

    In this video, Canadian woodworker Rob Cosman shows the viewer how to hand-cut a mortise-and-tenon joint and a through-wedged-tenon joint. He is joined by Mark Eaton who asks the question pondered by many of today's woodworkers: why would anyone take the time to hand-cut these joints given the availablility of routers, table saws and other power tools? The answer is simple: to learn new skills and to experience the pride of a job well done.
    Rob starts by describing the various tools he uses to lay out and cut these joints. They include dividers, marking gauges, various chisels and saws, a shoulder plane and a skew block plane. Next, he explains how he sharpens his saws and his exhaustive process for sharpening his chisels, including a detailed explanation on the proper use of water stones. Later in the video, he demonstrates the use of a bench hook and shooting board.
    Once his tools are sharpened, Rob discusses stock preparation and his efficient layout process. Using dividers, a marking gauge, a small square and the mortising chisel as his width reference, he lays out a perfect joint without ever measuring with a ruler.
    After laying out the joint, Rob demonstrates the sawing and chiseling techniques that maximize the accuracy of these tools. He also demonstrates the proper positioning of the stock in the vise as well as his process for hand-fitting the joint.
    In the second disk of this two-disk set, Cosman shows how he makes a through-wedged-tenon joint. While much of the process is similar to the information on the first disk, it provides a good review. It culminates with a very strong decorative joint that would add strength and value to any project.
    This video will appeal to hand tool aficionados, but Cosman makes it look so easy and predictable that even power tool enthusiasts will be tempted to give these techniques a try. All woodworkers will benefit from the discussion on the marking gauge and dividers, as well as the sharpening exercises.
    Overall, I thought this video was very well prepared. The lighting, sound and production quality are quite good. Cosman is a very good instructor and maintains the viewer's interest throughout the video. His attention to detail is impressive and is reflected in the quality of the joints that he creates.

. . . Steven Mellott