Tool review: Tablesaw Tenoning Jigs
Faster and cleaner-cutting than a dado set, these accessories make tight-fitting tenons in no time.
At first glance, a tablesaw tenoning jig looks intimidating with all those knobs and movable parts. Fact is, you'll use only a few of those parts for 99 percent of your work, and these simple accessories prove so easy to use, you'll wonder why you didn't get one sooner.
Popular sentiment among woodworkers suggests that all tenoning jigs are the same, so you should just buy the least expensive one you can find. We beg to differ. Half of the jigs in our test were pretty much interchangeable, but one stood clearly above the rest. And by the time you reach the end of this article, you'll know exactly which one to buy.
Using a dado set to cut tenons on a workpiece laid horizontally on the saw invariably leaves ridges and shallow grooves on the tenon cheeks that weaken the joint (unless you tediously sand or hand-plane them smooth). But a tablesaw tenoning jig secures the workpiece on its end to cut the cheeks with an ordinary saw blade [top photo], leaving them jointer-smooth.
Looking at the Tenoning Jig Anatomy photo, you'll see that each jig has two main functional areas: the work-holding area (components labeled in gray), and a workpiece-positioning area (parts marked in black) that controls the size of the tenon.
To use the jig, clamp the workpiece with one face against the support plate and one edge against the fence. Set the blade height to cut the length of the tenon. Next, loosen both the sliding-base lock and the microadjust lock, and move the sliding base to correctly position one face-cheek cut. Engage the microadjust lock to dial in the cut precisely. Now, secure the sliding-base lock and make the cut by pushing the jig and workpiece through the blade. Repeat the process for the opposite face cheek and the two edge cheeks. Make the shoulder cuts to remove the waste (using a miter gauge) either before or after you cut the cheeks.
The simple and repetitive process typically requires repositioning both the clamp and the sliding base when you switch from cutting face cheeks to cutting edge cheeks (unless your workpiece and tenons are square). So, let's start by rating the adjustments you'll make most frequently.