Fire Table – Wood Table Top Tenons

Fire Table – Wood Table Top Tenons

So far on the fire table, I have made a concrete insert, sealed it, and got the fire pit insert up and running. Next on the list is back to my comfort zone, the wood table top. For this table top, like the one I did for the dining table and the outdoor coffee table, I’ll be using mortise and tenon joints. I’ll have a breadboard to hold the table top boards in place and it will be connected to each board with a mortise and tenon. As I’ve done this multiple times now, making tenons is becoming quite straightforward for me.

To begin, I had to rip my 2”x6” cedar boards down to 5”. This makes everything uniform, while also removing the rounded edges of the lumber. The straight edges left behind tend to give the furniture a much more finished look. I ripped each board on the table saw, leaving behind a small off cut and an interesting topographical map in the sawdust. 

Simple way to make boring lumber look slightly cleaner.
Just a topographical map from cedar sawdust.

Once I had my board pieces ripped to the proper width, I cut four of them to the proper length for the outside, full length pieces. The inner ones will be cut down to the proper length last, after I get the concrete insert in place. This will allow me to cut them down to a precise fit.

The laser measure helps to cut consistent lengths when a stop block isn’t possible.

Next, I set up a jig to get straight and consistently sized tenons on all my boards. With the router jig, I cut each tenon down to ⅓ the thickness of the board, or ½”. With 7 boards having 14 total tenons, that means 28 runs with the router.

Router jig to cut straight tenons on each side of the board.

It wasn’t exactly a clean process, since my router doesn’t have a way for me to hook up my dust collector to it.

This is why I need to remember to wear a mask while doing these projects.

The final step in getting the tenons ready was to cut them down to size. I typically take about ½” to 1” off of the side of the tenon. In this case, I took off ¾” from each side, making my tenons 3 ½” wide. 

Flush cut saw works really well to trim these tenons to size.

I always end up sanding my tenons on the edges. Doing that helps makes assembly into the mortises much easier. It also allows me to clean up the base of the tenon to get a cleaner joint between the boards and breadboard when they are hooked together. That process will be the subject of next week’s post.

Leave a Reply