Round Tenons Without a Lathe

It’s natural that woodworkers see, in their minds eye, rectangular shapes when talk turns to tenons. After all, these are the shapes most often used as we create shoulders and cheeks. But when the words “round tenon” are spoken, it’s all but automatic that his or her thoughts jump to wood spinning between two centers (Fig. 1). Using a lathe makes round tenons easy, especially if you want a round tenon on square stock. But what if you don’t have a lathe? What if your part is too long to spin between centers?

(Fig. 1) Mention round tenons and many woodworkers automatically think lathe, but that’s just one of many techniques that make round out of square.

As it is with almost anything in woodworking, there are many ways to accomplish any single task. If you need to produce a round tenon on the end of your square piece of stock, you have choices. Each choice requires different tools and skill levels. The methods are as diverse as shaping the tenon using only hand tools to building a jig that’s used at your router table or table saw. Each of the techniques achieves the desired result. Which do you choose?

Saw & Chisel to Round

Using hand tools to form a round tenon employs basic woodworking skills that all woodworkers should have. And running through the process is a great way to hone those skills if they should go dormant over time. With a handsaw, chisel, compass and square, you’re all set. If you can toss a carving gouge into the mix, you may find the work a bit easier.

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