For strength and durability, no one can argue with mortise and tenon joinery. When a joint that won’t fail really matters, after hundreds of years, it’s still the preferred method. The drawback, however, is this: mortise and tenon joinery isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. The traditional method of cutting mortise and tenon joints by hand, in fact, presents a considerable challenge and investment in time even for the most skilled woodworker. And while there are a number of easier, faster, power tool-assisted methods available, most require expensive specialized equipment, and not everyone can justify the investment in a fancy mortise and tenon jig or the latest in high-end German engineering, like the Festool Domino system.
For years, the BeadLOCK joinery system has been the affordable exception. With one simple jig and an ordinary drill, the BeadLOCK lets you make a sturdy “loose tenon” joint with speed and ease. Arguably stronger than a traditional mortise and tenon joint, the BeadLOCK jig takes advantage of the drill bit’s cylindrical shape and produces a series of overlapping holes that lock together with the unique BeadLOCK tenon stock. The result is not only a superior mechanical fit, but a joint with an impressive amount of glue-up surface area – all through a procedure that takes only a few minutes to master.
And the BeadLOCK just got better: A short while back, BeadLOCK introduced two new versions of its patented jig. Now, you have your choice between an improved version of the classic BeadLOCK jig (still at a very modest price) and the new BeadLOCK Pro jig, a system that gives you mortises up to 3-1/2” wide, more advanced centering capabilities, and an easy, doweling jig-like clamping mechanism. Along with that, the Pro kit also includes a paring fixture that slips into the jig and serves as a chisel guide for squaring off the sides of a BeadLOCK mortise. If you ever need a crisp, professional-looking through mortise that matches your rectangular tenon stock perfectly, the BeadLOCK Pro Jig will give you one – in about ten minutes.
Both systems come with everything you need to get started making 3/8” mortises - except the drill, of course - in a rugged case that provides extra space for the optional ¼” and ½” guides and bits. As always, solid birch tenon stock is available ready-made (see the BeadLOCK offers) or you can save money in the long run by cutting your own with BeadLOCK tenon cutting router bits.
Since its introduction, the BeadLOCK jig has occupied a unique position as a fast, accurate, and at the same time affordable entry point to the high craft of mortise and tenon joinery. There simply has never been a more sensible way for a budget-conscious hobbyist or an “occasional” tenon maker to approach the most revered joint in woodworking history. Now, with an improved, easier to use basic BeadLOCK system and the huskier, more versatile BeadLOCK Pro jig to choose from, it makes more sense than ever.