To make professional-quality mortise and tenon joints, you need a woodshop full of expensive tools, decades of experience and loads of time on your hands, right? Nope. Not if you have a Beadlock kit. With the Beadlock system and just a few common tools, you can make perfect mortise and loose tenon joints beginning with your very first try.
To prove it, we’re happy to welcome Sandra, a fellow blogger at Sawdust and Paper Scraps. Below, she chronicles her first experience using the Beadlock system in a project that turned out a handsome and solidly joined set of drawer fronts. Thanks, Sandra!
Rockler Blog Team
Hello Rockler fans! I’m Sandra. I’m a mom and an “almost” designer turned wannabe carpenter sharing my DIY journey on my blog, Sawdust and Paper Scraps
I recently finished building my craft room island and I got to try out the Beadlock Pro, mortise and tenon jig to build my drawer fronts.
I’d never done mortise and tenon joints before because I always thought they were too complicated. But after reading about the Beadlock Pro, it sounded like something a novice like myself could manage.
I was excited to try a new technique on the drawer fronts. But first, I had to build the island!
I built very basic cases out of Melamine, installed face frames, attached beadboard to the sides, painted and built all my drawers.
Then I got to make my drawer fronts and use my new jig!
First, I routered all my pieces, using the back cutter on a reversible cabinet door bit to cut the panel slot.
I used the 1/4″ accessory kit that is recommended for 3/4″ material and followed the instructions for marking and drilling the mortises.
I had to practice a few times until I got it all straight in my head. Once I got it down…it went pretty fast!
On the boards where I had to drill into the ends, I had to clamp the whole set up to my table saw (which luckily has a lip on the edge). I don’t have a proper “Work Table”
One tip if you’re using narrow stock – say on a face frame!
I practiced a few times on some 1 1/2″ pine and ran into a problem of the stock being too narrow for the clamp to hold the piece. I just butted a scrap piece up next to it and even though only a small bit of clamp was actually on my work piece, it held securely while I drilled!
So, then I dry fit everything to make sure I did it correctly and then glued and clamped…
After I sanded them flat, smooth and even, I primed and painted!
Then I secured them to my drawers after a lot of fanageling to get them all even and right where I wanted them. I know Rockler has some nifty thingamabobs for that but I didn’t have any at the time because I don’t always plan ahead and I’m impatient. I resorted to careful measurements, carpet tape and countersunk screws from the inside of the drawers.
Here’s my finished drawer fronts.
And the rest of my craft room and adjoining TV room and entertainment center that I built too.
I just wish I’d had the Beadlock Pro first because the island doors/drawers are definitely a step up from the others I built. Oh, well! I’m learning as I go and I learn something new with every project.
I’m not a professional carpenter but I am a DIYer and I love learning new techniques and skills. And I love finding new tools that make it possible for me to be better at doing that!
Come visit me on Sawdust and Paper Scraps anytime. It was a pleasure being here.