George Vondriska

Tightening Loose Tenons

George Vondriska
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Duration:   3:19   mins

If you’ve got a shop, it’s a certainty that people are going to ask you to do furniture repairs. It comes with the territory. The next time a piece comes into your shop that has round tenons, and they’re loose tenons, you’re going to want to try this repair. It provides an easy way to tighten up loose tenons, by adding a simple shim.

Why not add more glue?

Some people would look at a repair like this and try to do the fix by simply 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 in no time. 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 it’s job.

Round versus 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? Be sure to check out this useful info on dimensioning the tenons. Our quick rule for tenon joinery is indispensable.

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3 Responses to “Tightening Loose Tenons”

  1. Seth Joshua Cox

    I think a thick shaving from a plane of similar wood is the best way to tighten a circular tenon. The natural curl forms to the shape and the similar shade is better camouflage than a piece of paper. More easily accessible than paper of a natural wood tone (that also curls.)

  2. Allen

    Those thin wood shavings are not going to hold up against any kind of movement for very long. I would fill the hole with an epoxy composite, jamb the tenon into it good and tight and let it set. The composite will dry way more solid than the wood itself.

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