I occasionally get asked a form of the following question, “Should I make my mortise depth the same as my tenon length?”

I like making my mortise depths a little deeper than the length of my tenons; of course, depending on the situation, you can also do the inverse by making your tenons a little shorter than the depth of your mortise. The reasoning I have always used, and it has paid off over the years, is that a slightly deeper mortise (or shorter tenon) does two things: One, it prevents your tenon from bottoming out in your mortise; two, it gives the glue that is sometimes pushed along by the tenon a place to collect which can also cause a bottoming out effect.

I hope this helps reduce the frustration that sometimes accompanies mortise and tenon joinery.

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