Summary of 5 standard mortise and mortise structural problems

1. Why do solid wood furniture use mortise and mortise structures?

Because wood characteristics only have strength and toughness in the longitudinal direction, and it is easy to break horizontally, it is necessary to ensure that the stress is in the order of the wood fibers.


digital manufacturing of solid wood furniture


2. Mortise and mortise also need glue

Early mortise and mortise structures were all removable! The problem is that it is impossible for ordinary users to disassemble because they do not know the order of connection between mortise and mortise and need to use tools.

Glue was also used for mortise and mortise in the past, but animal glue was the main thing. There are two types: fish gizzard, which is boiled out of fish bubbles, and pork skin gum.

Liberation of the mortise, usually with hot water bubbles before they can be opened. If the previous furniture parts were broken, they could be reinstalled separately, so the furniture was sent to the carpenter’s house for repair.

Even if the furniture on the market is mortise and mortise, it will be glued, so don’t pay too much attention to “glue.” This has continued from ancient times to the present, but now the glue is more convenient and robust. The only drawback is that it is irreversible after assembly.


Main production process of cabinet door core plate


3. Are mortise and mortise structures created by the Chinese?

China’s mortise and mortise are exquisite and very accomplished, but mortise and mortise are not unique to China.

Wood, as the most primitive building and furniture material, is global, so mortise and mortise occur globally, not a traditional Chinese feature.

Mortise and mortise structures also appeared very early in Egypt. In addition, seats were introduced to China through Western Asia.


4. Are mortise and mortise structures made by hand?

Let’s go back to the mortise structure of modern solid wood furniture, and some merchants even use mortise structures as a marketing stunt.

WHY? Is mortise and mortise structure expensive? Is it hard?

It’s not hard, but the problem is on both sides:

  1. Whether manual or mechanical is very labor-intensive, the technical requirements for workers are very, very high.
  2. The precision of machined and mortise is much higher than before and can be accurate to 0.5 mm error. However, complex mortise and mortise machines have high requirements unless they are CNC machining machines, such as Crosscut Saw CNC. Ordinary uniaxial machining machines require many processes to process tricky mortise and mortise. And for most domestic furniture manufacturers, CNC is too expensive for tens of millions of units, and the cost is too high.

The choice of mortise and mortise for wood is limited. A lot of wood can adapt to the strength requirements of mortise and mortise, does not necessarily need mahogany as hard, high-density mahogany selection range is limited from the Qing dynasty, and mainly because of many decorative carvings, must be fine wood, wood fibers lose carved out will not be delicate and smooth. In the Ming Dynasty, many were ordinary materials. For example, the density of Nanmu was not very high. At that time, there were many people in the southwest of our country, and it has been cut down until now.


5. The mortise is good, but not the only option

Mortise and mortise is not the only thing that must be present. Whether for architecture or furniture, it is a choice.

Modern times have more, if not better, options for achieving their functions, such as buildings, where prefabricated cement bars have appeared in skyscrapers, and wooden mortises are impossible to achieve. For furniture, the emergence of more materials reduces processing costs and realizes the diversity of furniture use environments (such as injection molding, alloy outdoor furniture) and shapes, and the emergence of various curved and curved furniture. These give consumers a more comprehensive range of choices.

The material itself is not suitable for the mortise for other furniture materials. For example, MDF has feeble torque resistance, so metal connectors are used instead.

In addition, the appearance of high-strength wooden glue replaces many mortise and mortise functions, such as puzzle boards. We know that most of the tables and desktops are spliced by a few pieces of wood for two reasons:

  1. Large-diameter wood is relatively scarce and expensive
  2. Large diameter wood requires much effort to prevent deformation and cracking when used in a large area. It is easy to deform, especially for the general desktop thickness of about 30 mm.

So it’s generally splicing. Previously, the splicing used wooden wedges or grooves to bite each other with animal glue to close the gap. Today’s high-strength adhesive is even more potent than the wood material itself. However, it is irreversible. That is, it cannot be disassembled.

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