17th century joinery, and the rest of cedar planks.

I’m a fairly consistent reader of the blog of Peter Follansbee, a joiner who specializes in 17th century techniques.  One joinery technique he often uses is drawboring.  You can read more about it here, but basically it’s a pin driven though the mortise and tenon. The hole for the pin in the tenon is offset from the hole through the mortise, so when the pin goes through it pulls the tenon shoulder tightly against the stock that has the mortise.  No glue, screws, nails etc.

There is a two part video as well about the technique, if you are confused and want to spent 12 minutes clearing it all up.

I read all about this and thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread.  This joint it the reason a lot of the furniture from the 17th century still exists, and in considerably good shape.  I wanted to try it out, with the hopes that I’d one day make a set of stools is this style.

Since I got up early enough that using power tools wouldn’t be very neighborly, I cut the tenon and chiseled the mortise into two scraps of oak I had.  When I got a good fit, I drilled my holes through the mortise, and drilled the offset hole in the tenon.  Then I split a piece from a scrap of walnut and shaved it down to be slightly larger than the hole.

Drove it through, flush cut the pin, and it was done.  Not the most exciting thing, since it was just a piece of scrap, but I was glad it worked well and looks neat with the contrasting wood.  It pulled together very tightly, the line between the joint is just a shadow.


I finished resawing the cedar log.  I made up a resaw fence to help keep the cuts straight. That worked well, and made the whole operation safer and less likely to bend of break the blade. The end product looks really neat!

I painted the ends with latex paint to keep them from drying out too fast and unevenly, causing splitting.  Then sticked and stacked the wood on the side of the garage where I more often run the AC and dehumidifier.  Since it gets more airflow they’ll dry quicker.  They are out of the way, and I’ll revisit them in a few months.


Someone in Avondale took down a laurel oak a few days ago, and I got a few of the more manageable pieces. Interested to see how those come out. Having a resaw capacity of only 6 inches is obviously limiting, but I think with random wood I find, splitting the logs down to six inch wide pieces is acceptable.  I wouldn’t want to do this with the larger cedar logs- hopefully the shop around the corner could resaw those for me for a nominal fee.


2 Comments on “17th century joinery, and the rest of cedar planks.”

  1. […] the mortises and chamfers are all done, I’ll flatten the top, then put it all together with drawbore joinery using walnut pins. No glue, nails, or screws – all 17th century style.  Ok, except me using […]

  2. […] this cedar tree into boards has definitely been done in a  few or more stages.  My dad and I ran out of time today, so I still have a few boards worth left of a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s