Late 18th century Urn Stand / Table Joinery


New member
I am drawing up plans for a small but charming late 18th century urn table / stand in mahogany.....

I am hoping someone may be able to advise on appropriate technique for the mortice and tenon joint. The legs are tapered and angled by about 4 degrees and although there are a few ways one can tackle the M&T I was hoping to find out  what would be the most common way in the period, or perhaps there was no common way....

I have attached an image of the general design.


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I've wondered about this as well.  Years ago a FWW article described a way to set up a table saw to cut compound mitered corners using a solid block of wood that had been cut with the same angles on it as a set-up block for the saw blade.  Cut the block with the angles you want on the sides and ends and the corner angle was easy to measure and set with a sliding bevel.  That angle was somehow used to set the angle of the mortises in the legs.
The taper on the leg starts below the molding and appears to only be tapered on the inside faces.  Cut the mortise as usual.  The shoulders of the tenon will have a slight angle layed out on the front and back face.  There is nothing compound about that. 

Pete Aleksa
Cherry Brook Woodworks
It may be difficult to see from the picture attached but the leg is tapered all the way up the leg. I have actually built the table now, I cut the mortise while the stock was square, so easy that way. The apron shoulder angles determined the degree of taper and I left the legs longer and trimmed them after assembly to level. The tenons were cut to the angle of the shoulder, a little adjustment was needed at the base of the tenon for a perfect fit.

In retrospect I am glad I figured it out by myself although there is probably an easier way I didn't think of. It is however absolutely solid joinery and I am happy. I suppose I had asked the question as I wished to build it period correct.
Do you happen to have a drawing or close-up photo of the how the top and molding are done?  I would like to see it if you do.


Hope this is helpful...

The molding above and below is the same design but the lower one is about 20% smaller in scale. It isn't clear from the picture but the molding is symmetrical. On the lengths of prepared molding stock I cut a rebate / rabbet top and bottom and then used a hollow plane to round over the central part that was left remaining.

The top " gallery " was made and installed separately.


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Hello Plane Mad. I'm curious, is the bottom photo your completed version of the top photo?

No, I'm still waiting on the brass ware for the table so I haven't polished / waxed / aged it until then....
I too would've suggested the taper start below the joint, but as long at the taper is uniform and you the tenon shoulder is angled anyway, I suppose there's not much difference. I think the joint is just a standard M&T with angled tenon shoulder, angled mortise. I would make this by striking the angled lines and sawing/chiseling to them. Too much trouble for machines with jigs.

How will you attach the top to account for movement (or will you account for it)? I'm planning to build a similar table and debating that myself.