Best Tenoning Jigs – 2021 Buyer’s Guide

Scott
| Last Updated: January 27, 2021

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So, you’re getting into woodworking DIY? If you intend to work on projects that consist of multiple wooden parts, chances are that you’re going to be using the tenon and mortise assembly method.

Tenoning is a bit more complicated than your good old woodcutting. That’s where tenoning jigs come in. 

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Here are the best tenoning jigs:

  1. General Tools 870 E Z Pro
  2. Shop Fox W1500
  3. Delta 34-184

Comparison Chart of the Best Tenoning Jigs

Product

Specs

Price

General Tools 870 E Z Pro

  • Can manage wood ranging from 1/2" to 1.5" in diameter and 1-3" long
  • Can handle wood ranging from 1/2" to 1.5" in diameter and 1-3" long
  • Includes other bushings to make 3/8" and 1/2" joints

Shop Fox W1500

  • Best for the Money
  • Fully extended depth: 13-inches, closed: 7-1/2-inches
  • Miter bar size: 3/8 x 3/4 x 11" (can be removed for irregular work.)

Delta 34-184

  • Best Delta Tenoning Jig
  • Works with any table saw with 3/8" x 3/4" miter slot
  • Great for up to 3.25" thick stock and features a quick-release hold down clamp

Incra I-Box

  • Best Tenoning Jig for Table Saw
  • Fits standard 3/4" x 3/8" miter slots with a 0.740" - 0.762" adjustment range
  • Includes 1 hour instructional DVD

What is a Tenoning Jig Used for?

In every typical scenario, you’ll use a tenoning jig in order to make tenons. This has one purpose – to fit mortises. However, tenoning is used in a wide variety of scenarios. Here are some examples.

Various Wooden Boxes

Sure, you could just glue the sides of a DIY box together. But the larger it gets, the more difficult it is to hold it together. This is exactly why tenons are often used for larger wooden boxes. Of course, you’ll want a tenoning jig here, too.

Furniture Frames

Most typically, tenons are used to make furniture frames. Why?

Well, let’s take bedframes, for example. If you were to try and plainly glue two sides of a bedframe, things wouldn’t really work out.

You can’t rely on the whole thing holding together as one piece, let alone as a piece of furniture. We guarantee that, no matter how strong a glue you use, without tenons, the bedframe will fall apart the moment you sit on it.

This goes for tables and chairs, as well. Which is why frames are built using tenons and mortises. Without a tenoning jig, you aren’t likely to pull off a functional frame.

Wardrobe

Not only are tenoning jigs used for making tenons for wardrobes and closets, but also for gluing together larger drawers.

Are All Tenoning Jigs the Same?

The popular opinion among woodworkers is that all tenoning jigs are the same.

However, there are many nooks and crannies here that make it otherwise. You’ll be able to use any tenoning jig for the vast majority of tenoning jobs. Similarly, you could technically use any smartphone to make calls and send messages. And yet, you still probably have a preference.

The same goes for tenoning jigs. You just need to learn what your preferences are. Which is exactly why we’re here.

Review of the Best Tenoning Jigs

What follows is our list of the best tenoning jigs. Finding the best one that suits your needs is up to you.

Runner-up:
General Tools 870 EZ Pro

PROS

  • Very versatile
  • Cuts tenons and mortises
  • Set-up, right out of the box
  • Made out of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Very easy to mount on a board or on a workbench

CONS

  • May not come with a manual
  • Some accessories may not be listed in the manual

Our Review

Many tenoning jigs are either mounted onto the workbench directly or clamped to the board. This being a personal preference, it means that some jigs aren’t for some people. The 870 EZ Pro offers the best of both worlds, which makes it very, very versatile.

This jig comes fully assembled out of the box, and ready to use instantly. This is extremely useful, as you aren’t likely to be moving a jig around frequently.

Admittedly, though, your package may not come with a user manual. This can be quite an issue for woodworking beginners. Plus, a couple of extra accessories come inside the box that aren’t mentioned in the official manual. All of which can add to the confusion. Still, you can find the manual online.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

What makes the 870 EZ Pro truly special is the fact that it can cut both tenons and mortises. You won’t find many tenoning jigs that do both, and it’s a great thing. But why don’t all tenoning jigs offer this feature? They haven’t been able to figure out how to do it successfully, while General Tools have. Why would people want any other tenoning jigs? Well, some don’t need a tenoning jig to make mortises.

Best for the Money:
Shop Fox W1500

PROS

  • Extremely easy to adjust
  • Among the safest tenoning jigs out there
  • Made out of solid aluminum – very durable
  • Very easy to set up and very simple to use

CONS

  • 45 degrees only

Our Review

With other tenoning jigs, no matter how good they are, you’re bound to spend time making custom wooden jigs for specific wood cutting purposes such as cutting tenons. Shop Fox W1500 eliminates the need to create and tweak a custom jig – it’s incredibly versatile. Plus, it’s very adjustable and easy to use.

Considering its size, the W1500 isn’t too heavy. This is because it’s made out of solid aluminum, which ensures its light weight and durability.

Shop Fox W1500 is perfect for beginners, but this isn’t to say that the pros tend to overlook this impressive piece of gear. With its adjustability and ability to make custom-degree tenons, it’s perfect for everybody.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

Simply put, it's safety that sets this product apart from others. This jig has been designed so that your hands are kept away from the blade, which means that you aren’t in danger, even if your hands slip. Still, as tenoning jigs are tools that are used with circular saws, you’ll want to be as careful as possible around it.

Best Delta Tenoning Jig:
Delta 34-184

PROS

  • 45-90-degree backstop
  • Ergonomic handles – extremely comfortable
  • Large crank handle for tight and easy clamping
  • 90-degree positive stop – perfect for repetitive and accurate cuts
  • Levers with multiple positions – perfect for quick and easy adjustment

CONS

  • Some manual directions are simply wrong

Our Review

The Delta 34-184 is built like a tank. It’s not a lightweight tool, rather very firm and sturdy. These are all great qualities for a tenoning jig, as these tools are supposed to hold things tight while you make precise cuts.

The 90-degree positive stop here is perfectly aligned with the tools overall sturdiness – it will do brilliantly accurate repetitive cuts. The handles on the 34-184 are very comfortable and pleasant to use. Even clamping is made easy and straightforward – the crank handle is large enough to hold everything in place.

The only real downside: some directions that you’ll find in the manual are just plain inaccurate.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

This is a tenoning jig that offers a perfect fit, great finish, great accuracy, and a sturdy construction. You won’t find too many jigs, especially not at this price range, that will fit this bill so seamlessly. The Delta 34-184 is a reliable tool that won’t let you down.

Best Tenoning Jig for Table Saw:
Incra I-Box

PROS

  • Very fast to set up and versatile
  • A very progressive design – extremely advanced
  • Works on both sides of the cutter – reversible design
  • Vastly improved user safety, compared to most tenoning jigs

CONS

  • More expensive than most tenoning jigs, although not without a reason

Our Review

Honestly, this is one of the most advanced tenoning jigs on the market. The company went with an innovative design, and the risk has paid off. This tenoning jig’s build allows you to set it up fast, use it on various cutting projects, while keeping your hands safe.

You don’t have to be a pro to use it, though. It’s very straightforward. Still, many professionals get this tenoning jig, owing to its versatility and tweakability. The cool thing about the Incra I-Box is that it’s intended for both table saws and router tables.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

The I-Box has some specific joints, such as the Center Keyed Box Joint, which are used for making symmetric patterns. This allows the user to create joints that match particular project plans, instead of messing with board widths to compensate for the lack of abilities of a traditional box joint jig. There’s also a decorative joint that’s specific to Incra, which will add that oomph to your projects.

Out of Stock:
Grizzly Industrial H7583

PROS

  • Heavy and sturdy
  • Perfect for a left- or right-tilting saw
  • Brilliant for accurate compound cuts
  • Large handles make adjustment very easy
  • Adjustable friction helps you hone in on the ideal cut

CONS

  • Adjustment for square cuts may take time

Our Review

Sturdiness and pure strength are essential aspects of tenoning jigs. We’re happy to tell you that the H7583 more than fits the bill. Another great thing about this one is that it’s adjustability ranges from 45-90 degrees. The bevel angle goes from 75-90, which is also quite a feat.

The performance of this jig is outright amazing. Even without the very affordable price, it would be a solid jig for professionals and amateurs alike. At the price point, it’s almost unbelievable. In many respects, this jig is quite a tough one to beat.

The only real problem with this model is that it might not be perfectly square straight out of the box. Still, after some tweaking, it becomes just what you need it to be – the best tenoning jig overall.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

A problem with a variety of tenoning jigs is that they have small knobs for adjustments. With tenoning, you’ll do a lot of adjusting, so large grip handles are more than welcome. The H7583 has large handles, which makes it very easy to work with.

In summary, here are the best tenoning jigs:

  1. General Tools 870 E Z Pro
  2. Shop Fox W1500
  3. Delta 34-184

What is a Tenoning Jig?

Tenons are rectangular portions on the ends of workpieces. They’re integral parts of each workpiece and are used to slide into mortises, cutaways where tenons fit perfectly. This type of assembly is sturdy and will make gluing easy.

In order to make tenons (rather than just glue them onto the end of a workpiece, which defeats the purpose), you need to do precise, accurate cuts, so that the tenon fits a mortise like a glove. This is almost impossible to do with your bare hands and a circular saw.

A tenoning jig is a tool that allows you to properly fix a piece of wood in order to make precise cuts with your circular saw. Cuts that are precise enough to make perfect tenons.

Tenoning Jig Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Success

New to the game? Don't stress; we've compiled a few key tips for properly and effectively utilizing your tenoning jig.

Wear Glasses

Safety glasses are a no-brainer in woodwork. If you’re working with tenoning jigs, a pair of glasses is even more critical. Why? Because when you’re working on wood in great detail (like with tenoning jigs), small pieces can quickly turn into missiles. The worst these missiles can do on your skin is cause a minor scratch. However, if one ends up in your eye, it could cause severe damage.

Watch Your Hands

Although tenoning jigs themselves don’t feature a circular saw, they’re almost always used in combination with one. Some tenoning jigs offer large handles and physical protection between your hands and the saw. Others, however, don’t. In any case, you need to be extra careful here. One slip, and you can end up injured.

Tighten the Clamp

You might be afraid of tightening the clamp too much. Well, the worst-case scenario of a too-tightened clamp is cracked wood. Not ideal, but not too terrible. The worst-case scenario of not tightening the clamp enough, well, it could send a chunk of wood flying off in any direction. Or, the cut may end up imprecise. In any case, don’t be afraid to put some back into tightening the clamp.

Pros and Cons of Tenoning Jigs

Tenoning jigs make for an excellent addition to your woodworking arsenal. They allow you to create a variety of custom projects that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. However, like any other tool, the tenoning jig comes with its own set of upshots and downsides.

Tenoning Jig Pros

Precision

Tenoning jigs are all designed with precision in mind. The job of a tenoning jig is to create a tenon that will perfectly fit the mortise – if not, you’ve got yourself a faulty project. If you cut too much, you can say goodbye to a woodpiece. So, precision is the backbone of using tenoning jigs, which is precisely what they’re built for.

Grip

A tenoning jig works by offering a firm, 90-degree (sometimes tweakable) angle and clamping the cutting piece onto it. In order to assure precision and proper cutting, this grip needs to be tight. This is another thing tenoning jigs excel at – fantastic grip and hold.

Overall Sturdiness

No matter how good a grip it offers, a lightweight tenoning jig will never be good enough. The robust, heavy, sturdy construction provides more control and far more precise cutting capabilities.

Tenoning Jig Cons

Price

The only downside to getting a tenoning jig is that you’re going to have to fork out more than $100. Well, at least if you’re looking to buy a decent model. The alternative here, however, isn’t using a tenoning jig at all, and this is a risky business in every conceivable sense.

How to Use a Tenoning Jig

Tenoning jigs are always used with circular saws. In most cases, we’re talking about table saws. So, this guide will help you learn how to set up your circular saw for tenoning jig use, as well as the tenoning jig itself.

1. Set Up the Table Saw

Start by raising the saw blade from the table. You’re doing this in order to make sure that your saw is perfectly perpendicular to the table. Use the correct tool to measure this (set square). Then, make sure that the blade is parallel to the saw slot in your table. Once you’re done here, you’ve successfully dialed in the table saw.

2. Set the Fence

The tenoning jig fence will make sure that the piece of wood that you’re cutting is set in place. But what does this mean? Every tenoning jig offers a 90-degree angle option to the table. Most, however, are tweakable to a point. Some go from 45-90 degrees, for example. Regardless of the angle, you’re going to use to cut, make sure that the face of the fence is 90 degrees to the saw of the table. Then, adjust the angle to your preference.

3. Set the Backstop

Much like the fence, the backstop is tweakable (angle-wise) to cut angle curves on woodpieces. Make sure that it’s at 90 degrees to the table and then move on to tweak the curvature.

4. Make Sure the Jig is Parallel

Now, bring the tenoning jig right across from the blade, loosen the clamp, and move the jig all the way to the blade. You’re looking for even contact between the fence’s face and the saw teeth. If there are some issues here, loosen the screws that hold the jig to the base of the table saw bar and make the necessary adjustments. Then, just tighten the screws when you’re done.

Refer to the video below for an in-detail video tutorial:

Conclusion

We’re confident that you’ll find the perfect tenoning jig for you on our list. Still, there’s a lot you need to keep in mind when using a tenoning jig, so make sure that you’ve checked out the rest of the article. Clamp that woodpiece tight, set everything up, and start cutting those tenons.

People Also Ask

There are many things that aren’t entirely clear about tenoning jigs. Here are some common questions.

What Kind Of Saw Blade Do I Use With A Tenoning Jig?

It’s recommended that you use a table saw or a miter saw, although some pros tend to use various types. Still, make sure that it’s a circular one.

How Does A Tenoning Jig Work?

To put it simply, you set up the saw, you set up the jig. Then, you make sure that everything is at the right angle. Clamp the piece of wood that you’re cutting, make the measurements, and slide the woodpiece using the tenoning jig, straight into the saw.

How To Make A Tenoning Jig?

In theory, you can make a tenoning jig yourself. Just cut up a piece of wood, make a fence, and add the clamp and backstop features. The irony of it is, however, that you’re going to have to use a tenoning jig to make a homemade tenoning jig.

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Scott

Hey, Scott here. I'm usually stuck behind the scenes with Mark, but every now and then a topic will come up and I'll be drawn toward writing. Outside of Tool Tango, I'm a dad and a husband. Most of my free time is spent with them and I wouldn't have it any other way.