George Vondriska

Tightening Loose Tenons

George Vondriska
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Duration:   3  mins

If you’ve got a shop, you can pretty much guarantee that people will ask you to repair their furniture. It just comes with the territory. The next time a piece comes into your shop with loose, round tenons, try this easy repair method to tighten them up by adding a simple shim.

Add more glue, right?

Wrong. Some people would look at a repair like this and try to fix it simply by adding more glue to the joint. Sorry, but that ain’t gonna work. The piece will be coming back to your shop for another repair before you know it. Standard yellow glue can only fill tiny gaps; nothing larger than a few thousandths of an inch. Paper is about .003”. If the gap in the joint is more than that, yellow glue won’t work long term. Instead, you’ve got to build out the loose tenon to create a better fit, which will allow the glue to do its job.

Round vs. Rectangular Tenons

Tenons that are square or rectangular are relatively easy to fix. Just glue on a piece of veneer, sand, chisel, or plane the veneer to get the fit you want, and you’re ready to go. Round tenons are a different story. The technique shown here allows you to create a loose tenon wrap that will create the perfect fit.

What is a good fit?

How do you know when you’ve got the tenon right? You should be able to slip it into the mortise with hand pressure, not requiring a mallet. When you gently pull on the parts, friction in the joint should keep them together. They shouldn’t just fall apart.

More on Tenons

Creating tenons from scratch? We’ve got some indispensable tips, including this quick rule for tenon joinery.

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5 Responses to “Tightening Loose Tenons”

  1. Mike

    ‬ Once the glue on the tenon and in mortise are removed, why not just use epoxy which is a gap filling glue?


    Will be using this one, thanks.

  3. Steve Larson

    That is a new way I had not seen before. I will have to try it. I have split the tenon's and put wedges in to spread them. The last time I used CA glue without disassembling the joints. Both methods seem to work too.

  4. Roger Bergeron


  5. edh

    Thanks very much for this tip. I have a couple of nice oak chairs that unfortunately are used on a carpeted floor so the rungs are continually coming loose. This looks like it may be the solution.

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