There is no question that the dovetail joint is perhaps one of the oldest and most trusted woodworking techniques in the history of woodworking. But it’s not the only one. There is another method that has been around almost as long as the dovetail and is still a commonly used practice amongst craftsmen.
We are of course talking about mortise and tenon.
To give you a little historical background on this joint, we are going to travel all the way back to 2500 BC where historians have found evidence of mortise and tenon being used in the Khufu Ship-a 43.6m long vessel that was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid. All across the Middle East to Asia, there have been discoveries of this joint being used in ancient wooden construction.
So what exactly is a mortise and tenon joint?
Much like the dovetail, mortise and tenon is a joint technique used to join two pieces of wood together. It’s simple and strong and evidently very useful having survived so many years. It is typically used when connecting pieces at right angles, like the rails and legs of a table, because of how effective it is for supporting a large amount of weight.
The mortise and tenon joint is comprised of two components: the mortise (hole) and tenon (tongue). They inter lock forming a strong bond that is practically impossible to take apart once glue is added. Which of course is why we love it so much. Vanities can get heavy, there is no denying that. So our freestanding pieces needed legs that will support the weight. Enter the fabulous mortise and tenon joint. Its ability to create such a strong bond and support a large amount of weight make it one of our favorite woodworking joints around.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty simple, any piece of furniture that has both a dovetail and a mortise and tenon is sure to withstand the test of time. It has a long history to back it up.