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I want to create a bookshelf speaker stand but use only joins (no nails, no glue). I want to be able to disassemble the stand and re-assemble it. I don't have many power tools and plan to cut joins using a hammer and chisel. Doing a bit of research I figure I could cut 4 holes in the base and top plate (4 mortises I think is the term) and tenons at the ends of the four legs. Then I'd have a basic stand. What would someone with more experience do?

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If you want to make joins using only wooden parts, and no metal hardware, and no glue, there are many types of joint you could use.

On larger pieces of furniture, such as tables, woodworkers sometimes use a tusked tenon. You can dissassemble by knocking out the wedge.

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On small pieces you could try dowels. Without glue you would need to take care otherwise the joint may not be very rigid.

enter image description here

One technique is to use a dowel (or wooden pin or peg) to draw a tenon tighter by offsetting the hole in the tenon from the hole in the morticed piece - this is sometimes called a draw-bored tenon.

enter image description here

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To construct these with hand tools, the following suffice

  • drill
  • tenon saw (AKA back saw)
  • chisel and mallet
  • time and practice

You can cut the round pegs from wooden rod or whittle them from rectangular pieces by using a spokeshave. You can make a dowel-plate by drilling a hole in any small piece of steel a few mm thick, use a mallet to hammer the roughly-shaped rod through.


As Charlie Kilian suggested in a comment. Although you can disassemble dry-assembled dowel and draw-bored tenon joints, they are not often used for frequently disassembled (i.e. portable) furniture. I'd expect the peg might need replacing.

You could take inspiration from other creations such as:

enter image description here
Karin Ekwall's Asta stool - all parts in wood only (though it isn't clear if the pegs are glued in-place)

enter image description here
Praktrik table

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    Time and practice.... Where do I buy that?
    – Matt
    Feb 16 '16 at 11:51
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    ^^ Basically the only things you can't order on Amazon... probably just out of stock. Feb 16 '16 at 13:56
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    I ordered "patience" on Amazon, but they wouldn't tell me how long it would take to deliver it. But seriously, you could appropriate the idea of the tusked tenon by putting a peg on both sides of the tenon and cutting a mortise at the full size of your cross member. (The thing that receives the cross member would have to be at least an inch bigger in width.) Feb 16 '16 at 14:04
  • I had always assumed a draw bore tenon was a permanent join. Is it common for them to be disassembled? Would that eventually wear down the bore? Feb 16 '16 at 15:50
  • I think the conventional wisdom is that if you disassemble a drawbored joint, you will need a new trenail (peg) to reassemble it. Also, it's not something you would plan to do very often because of wear. BTW, drawbores would be my go-to option among what's above--they are resilient and surprisingly easy.
    – skiggety
    Feb 16 '16 at 19:00

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