Through tenons


Active member
I am making a Philadelphia chair with through tenons. Did the original chairs have wedges in the tenon in the back or were these repairs add later? I saw a close-up picture of a reproduction from Kittinger and it had no wedges in the back. Also what is the best way to do the through tenon so that there are no gaps in the back?
Everything I have seen and read showed the wedges on the originals, which of course make sense.  I have done these once, and I was able to get a decent fit by marking and mortising from the back of the leg as well as the front, so the opening that shows is clean.  I think this is discussed in the Clarkson chair book but it's been a while since I opened it.

Once the tenon is wedged, you can plane/scrape everything flush and that action helps to close gaps, similar to final planing dovetails.

I'm sure there are more experienced hands than me, but it wasn't a difficult process.  Good luck on yours!  Cal


  • Johnston Chairs Through Tenons.jpg
    Johnston Chairs Through Tenons.jpg
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Thanks for the help. It has been almost 40 years since it made this type of joint so I am a little apprehensive.
In 1986 Gene Landon wrote an article on constructing a chippendale ladderback chair for FWW. Every thing you need to know about the joinery,especially the rear post tenons is in this article. The FWW mag has the chair on the cover and is available on Ebay(I just looked). Good Luck