Introduction: Mortise and Tenon

The following information is a single lesson in a larger Tinkercad project. Check out this and more projects on Tinkercad.

Return to Previous Lesson: Roman Arch

Lesson Overview:

Now we're going to make a mortise and tenon. Look ma! No screws!

Step 1: Introduction

Mortise and tenon is a style of architecture that relies entirely on wooden parts without using fasteners like glue or nails.

A mortise is a carefully shaped hole in a wooden part, and a tenon is a wooden piece that fits snuggly into its mortise.

Using combinations of these parts architects have designed many historic structures using only wood.

In this lesson we will see how the parts in a mortise and tenon structure work together to support their own weight.


  1. Continue to the next step or Click next to continue.

Step 2: Make a Post

Posts are long and sturdy pieces of wood that stand vertically and support weight.

Our posts will support all the weight of all the other heavy wooden beams we will use to build our gazebo.


  1. Create a post by making a box that is 10mm along the X and Y axes, and 80mm along the Z axis.
  2. Now, to create the mortise, drag out a box and make it 6mm by 4mm along the X and Y axes, and 6mm along the Z axis. Turn it into a hole.
  3. Use the Align function to center the box shaped hole to the post along the X and Y axis, and to the post's upper Z axis limit.
  4. Group these two objects.
  5. Duplicate this post, translate it 90mm along the X axis and rotate the duplicate 90° about the Z axis.
  6. Duplicate this post two more times. Smart duplicate will place the remaining two posts in place forming a square.
  7. Continue to the next step.

Step 3: Make the Headers

Headers are horizontal beams. Each header will possess tenons and a mortise that will be used in assembly.

You will only need to make one header now, but you will duplicate more later on.

Note: We're building it upside-down. You will also note that the tenon will be slightly smaller than the Mortise. This is because we will need to allow for tolerances, or imperfections in the exact dimensions in the 3D print.


  1. Drag out a box and make in 90mm by 10mm along the X and Y axes, and 10mm along the Z axis.
  2. Drag out a box and make it 5mm by 3mm along the X and Y axes, and 5mm along the Z axis. Move the tenon 10mm above the workplane (above the top of the header.)
  3. Center this box to the header along the Y axis and align to the lower limit along the X axis. Then nudge the box 2.5 mm from the end of the header in the positive X direction. This will be your first tenon.
  4. Duplicate the tenon and center it to the Header along the Y and Z axes, and align it to the header's largest X limit.
  5. Dismiss the align tool, shift click the header (to deselect it) and then nudge the duplicated tenon 5mm along the X axis, in the positive direction.
  6. Continue to the next step.

Step 4: Make a Horizontal Mortise

Now we will create a hole in the header that is shaped exactly like our tenon, this will receive the tenons on the ends of the headers.


  1. Drag out a box, make it 6mm along the Y and Z axes, and 4mm along the X axis, and make it a hole.
  2. Center the box to the header's Z axis, and align it to the header's lowest limits along the X and Y axis.
  3. Dismiss the align tool and shift click the header to deselect it.
  4. Nudge the box shaped hole (mortise) 3mm along the X axis in the positive direction.
  5. Group the header, the two tenons and the one mortise into one object.
  6. Continue to the next step.

Step 5: Position and Duplicate the Parts

Next we’ll make a second header and put the pair of them in place.

In a later step we will cut slots in one of the headers for roof beams to sit in, and then later make duplicates of both headers to print four in total.


  1. Rotate the header 180° around the X axis so that the vertical tenon is pointing down.
  2. Center the header to the post along the Y Axis, then align the header to this post's lowest limit along the X axis and highest limit along the Z axis.
  3. Select only the header and ctrl-nudge the header 10mm along the Z axis in the positive direction so it sits on top of the post.
  4. Duplicate the header and rotate it 90° about the Z axis in the negative counter clockwise direction.
  5. Select your header and the post that is positioned lowest on the Y axis and highest on the X axis.
  6. Align your header to the lower limits of the post along the Y axis, and center the header to the post along the X axis.
  7. Continue to the next step.

Step 6: Cut Holes in the Headers

Next we’ll cut evenly spaced slots into one of our headers for the roof beams to sit in. These slots will be larger than the roof beams to allow for tolerances in the fit.


  1. Group the two posts at either end of the header you are going to embedded slots into. This group will allow us to center the roof beams relative to the width of the gazebo.
  2. Drag out a box and turn it into a hole.
  3. Translate the box to 85mm above the workplane (along the Z Axis) and then center it to the two posts you grouped along the X and Y axes. It should now intersect with the header.
  4. Resize this box while holding Alt to be 7mm wide along the axis that runs parallel to the header.
  5. Duplicate the box and move it 11mm along the header. Do this 3 times in both directions.
  6. Group these boxes with the header.
  7. Continue to the next step.

Step 7: Making the Roof Beams

The roof beams aren’t structural, meaning they don’t support any weight, but they will provide some shade for anyone sitting in the gazebo and make it visually appealing.


  1. Create a box that is 130mm by 6mm along the X and Y axes and 10mm tall along the Z axis.
  2. Drag out a wedge and rotate it 90° around the Z axis in the positive direction (so it points in the positive direction along the X axis.)
  3. Turn the wedge in to a hole and resize it to 10mm along the X axis.
  4. Align the wedge to the box's lowest X and Z limits and center it along the Y axis.
  5. Duplicate the wedge and rotate the duplicate 180° about the Z Axis (so it points in the negative direction along the X axis) and align it to the box's largest X limit.
  6. Group the two wedges and the box.
  7. Continue to the next step.

Step 8: Arrange the Parts for 3D Printing

Now we'll duplicate and arrange the parts for printing.

Arrange the parts so that they have at least 1mm between them, and take up as little space as possible as a group.


  1. Rotate the roof beam 180° about the X axis and then duplicate it until there are 7 beams in total.
  2. Center these beams to each other, along the X axis, and then space them so they they are 1mm apart on the Y axis.
  3. Duplicate the headers so that there are two of each; two with slots and two without.
  4. Rotate the headers so that they run parallel to the roof beams.
  5. Rotate the slotted headers about the X axis so that the mortise is pointing up.
  6. The tenons will produce overhangs, so we will need to enable support structures in our 3D printer software.
  7. Rotate the headers without slots either so that the tenon is pointing up or so that the mortise is pointing up.
  8. Move the headers as close as you can without them overlapping.
  9. Find space among your parts for the posts.
  10. Continue to the next step.

Step 9: Printing Your Gazebo

This object will be challenging for printers because of the large number of parts.

One or two of your parts might fail. If that happens simply copy and paste the failed parts into a new file and print them.


  1. From the design menu in the menu bar, click the 'Download for 3D Printing.'
  2. Select the STL print option.
  3. Upload the file to your 3D printer.
  4. Print!

In the next lesson you will learn to make a bridge!

Next Lesson:Suspension Bridge


About This Instructable




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