Easel Live: Furniture & Joinery Basics

 Inventables’ Easel Live is a series dedicated to demonstrating the ins and outs and tips and tricks of our Easel software. They provide CNC users the opportunity to learn more about CNC software, design, and efficiency when working with Easel and the X-Carve.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to use basic joinery to create furniture pieces like stools and chairs. We’ll look at two joints in particular: the mortise and tenon joint and the clip tenon joint.

Key Session Takeaways:

  • Sometimes less is more: using just one or two joints can take you a long way. The awesome stool featured in this session uses just two joints.

  • You don’t need step-by-step instructions to learn or find inspiration. Just look around you. Whether at home, work, stores, or online you can find design elements to incorporate into your own projects.

  • Experimentation is key. You’ll be using a ton of trial and error. Finding the right material is tough. Use test parts for finding the right thickness, flexibility, material

Mortise and Tenon Joint Tips 

We covered the basics of the mortice and tenon joint as well as a few others in another blog post. In this Easel Live sessions, Mo and Matt provide some more helpful tips on creating this particular joint. It’s important to practice and experiment by creating prototypes before you attempt to incorporate them into your real projects.

Here is a step-by-step on creating a prototype mortise and tenon:

  1. For the female component of the joint, place a rectangle on your workspace. The width should be equal to the thickness of your male component. Set the type of cut to inside outline.

  1. Create the male component using the rectangle tool. The width of the male rectangle should be equal to the thickness of your material. The height should be equal to the height of your female component. 

  1. Create a base for the male component of your prototype. Set the type of cut to an outside outline.

  1. Carving joints can be tricky. For instance, the radius of the bit can interfere with the corners of your cut. Rather than a clean 90-degree angle, there will be a bit of rounding on the corners, preventing a clean, snug fit. 

  • One workaround is the dogbone generator which created exaggerated edges, ensuring the tenon can fit snuggly. 

Clip Tenon Joint Step-by-Step

Unlike the mortise and tenon joint which is relatively straightforward, the clip tenon requires a few more steps. We’ll cover the basics in this article but for a full tutorial, definitely check out the video (clip tenon begins at 23:06).

  1. Align three rectangles. These will be the “fingers” of the joint.


  1. Align three equally sized half circles to the end of the rectangles

  1. Next, we need to create the “shoulders” of the joint. But in order to do that, we need to determine the thickness of the material that the joint will fit into. This can be accomplished by creating a rectangle with the width of your material. If the thickness of the material is ¾”  then create a rectangle with a width of ¾” and align it to the edge of your rectangles.

  1. Now that we have the material thickness, we can set the shoulders by creating yet another large rectangle and align it to the edge of the gray rectangle.

  1. Now that we have the basics of the joint itself, we need to add supports: a base and a top and a bottom brace. Be sure that the shoulders are aligned with the top and bottom braces.

  1. The final step is similar to the dogbone corners we generated earlier. Create four vertically aligned circles that will be placed at the base of the fingers.

The clip tenon joint in particular will require a lot of trial and error. Experiment with different materials, thicknesses, and sizes. Your projects will require different variables than your practice runs so it’s important to be open and don’t get discouraged. It’s all a part of the process.

Easel Live is a fantastic resource for machinists of every skill level. When you tune into live events, you can ask questions and participate with other CNC enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. We have great participation from our community members who offer advice in addition to the information provided in the stream.

Source: inventables

Easel Live: Furniture & Joinery Basics