How to Find the Best Tenon Cutter

If you love the look of log furniture and you want to try making your own, you’ll need to add a tenon cutter to your forestry gear.

Tenon cutters create strong, stable tenon joints – these are essential for railings and furniture. Attached to your drill, these can help you to create beautiful log projects with ease.

The question is – which is the best tenon cutter? What should you look for? And what are the different types you can get? We’ll answer all these questions and give you our top 5 recommendations.

First, let’s look at 5 of the best tenon cutters out there. We’ve chosen different types and price points, so you can find one that suits you best.

At a Glance: 5 of the Best Tenon Cutters

Model Cutter Size Removable Shank Shoulder Type  Price
Lumberjack Tools ¾” Pro Log Tenon Cutter ¾” Yes Radius $$$
Timber Tuff 1″ Tenon Cutter with Forstner Bit 1″ No Tapered $$
Lumberjack Tools Tenon Cutter Set 1″, 1 ½”, and 2″ Yes Tapered $$$$
Lumberjack Tools 2″ Radius Cutter 2″ Yes Radius $$$
Lumberjack Tools 1″ and 2″ Pro Starter Kit 1″ and 2″ Yes Radius $$$$$

What is a Tenon Cutter?

A tenon cutter can be attached to your drill. It allows you to make perfect, smooth joints in lumber. A tenon cutter is a must-have drill accessory if you want to make log furniture or accessories.

A tenon joint is a super-strong, stable join that can hold two pieces of wood together. If you want to make sturdy furniture or railings, tenon joints are essential.

What to Look for in a Tenon Cutter

There are a few main things to look for in a tenon cutter:

Drill Compatibility

Most tenon cutters attach to a drill with a 1/2″ bit or larger. If you operate a tenon cutter at high speed, it can cause the blades to overheat, so if you have a super-fast drill, a tenon cutter may not work for you. Instead, try to use a tenon cutter with a low RPM (rotations per minute) – 500 or less, ideally, to avoid overheating.

Removable Shank

If you can, go for a model with a removable shank. This means if it is damaged or worn, you can replace the shank instead of having to replace the whole tenon cutter. In the long run, having a removable shank is going to be more cost-effective if you’re going to get a lot of use out of your tenon cutter.

However, some cheaper models don’t have a removable shank. If you only plan to use your tenon cutter from time to time, this may not be an issue, but it’s something to bear in mind.

Cutter Size

Cutter size can vary from ¾” through to 2″. The size you choose will depend on the size of the project you are working on. For most projects, a 1 ½” – 2″ tenon cutter is fine. For smaller items, go for a ¾” or 1″ cutter.

You can get tenon cutter sets, which will give you a selection of sizes to choose from. This is great if you want to get into furniture-making as it opens up the types of projects you can make.

Shoulder Type

The shoulder profile determines the type of shape you will get on your cut tenons. There are two choices – a tapered shoulder profile or a radius shoulder profile. There is no difference in strength, just in looks. The tapered shoulder is a bit more rustic, while the radius shoulder is a bit more refined. You can experiment to see which type you prefer the look of.

Materials

Carbon steel is an ideal material for tenon cutters, as it’s strong and can be resharpened easily. Look for powder coating on the outside of the cutter, too – this can help to resist corrosion, helping your cutter last for longer.

Extra Features

Some tenon cutters come with extra features. For example, you may find a measurement system that allows you to cut tenons to your desired length without measuring them first. However, these are not always reliable, so you may want to practice a few times with some scrap wood that you don’t need.

They may also come with extra bits, for example, forester bits. You will need a forester bit to boreholes, but not all tenon cutters come with these included.

5 Best Tenon Cutters

Now let’s take a look at 5 of the best tenon cutters out there, including their pros and cons and the key specs that you need to know!

1. Lumberjack Tools ¾” Pro Log Tenon Cutter – Best for Smaller Projects

Key Specs

  • Cutter Size: ¾.”
  • Removable Shank: Yes
  • Fits Drill Size: ½.”
  • Shoulder Type: Radius

The Lumberjack Tools ¾” Pro Log Tenon Cutter is ideal for smaller projects, like side tables or other small furniture. It is a tough, aggressive cutter capable of making sharp cuts. It fits a chuck size of ½” with an RPM of 500 or less.

It has a threaded shank, which can be removed and replaced if it gets damaged or worn. In addition, the blades are curved, which creates a refined radius shoulder, and Lumberjack claims that you can get up to 1,000 cuts before needing to resharpen the blades.

This cutter comes with in-sight measurement, which means you can cut your tenons to your required length without measuring them first. The downside is that this can be quite fiddly, so you may want to measure it anyway, especially for the first few goes as you get used to it. It doesn’t include a Forstner bit, either.

Pros

  • Tough, aggressive cutter
  • Has threaded shank which is easy to remove
  • Strong blades that can easily be resharpened

Cons

  • The in-sight measurement system could be easier to use

2. Timber Tuff 1″ Tenon Cutter with Forstner Bit – Best Value

Key Specs

  • Cutter Size: 1″
  • Removable Shank: No
  • Fits Drill Size: ½” or larger
  • Shoulder Type: Tapered

The Timber Tuff 1″ Tenon Cutter with Forstner Bit is great value for money. It’s compatible with a chuck size of ½” or larger, with an RPM of 500 or less. The 1″ blades are ideal for most projects, but they may be too big for very small projects.

The shank is not removable, but the blades can be removed for sharpening. The blades create a rough, rustic tapered look.

It has a scale to guide you in terms of measurements, allowing you to securely fix the twin blades into place. It also comes with a Forstner bit, which is great, as many tenon cutters don’t include this. Finally, the outer layer is powder coated to help prevent corrosion.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Blades can be removed and sharpened
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • It comes with Forstner bit

Cons

  • Shank is not removable

3. Lumberjack Tools Tenon Cutter Set – Best Tenon Cutter Set

Key Specs

  • Cutter Size: 1″, 1 ½”, and 2″
  • Removable Shank: Yes
  • Fits Drill Size: ½.”
  • Shoulder Type: Tapered

The Lumberjack Tools Tenon Cutter Set is great if you want a bit of variety so you can work on different-sized projects. It works with a chuck size of ½”, with an RPM of 500 less.

The shanks are removable, which means you can replace them if they get damaged or worn after time, which may make them better value in the long run if you plan to use them a lot. The blades all have the same shoulder type, tapered, which gives a rustic look to your projects. The blades are very sharp, and it’s super-quick to use.

The cutters are powder-coated, so they’re nice and corrosion-resistant. They also come with a Forstner bit, which is great. The downside is that they are pretty pricey – while you do get 3 in the pack, it’s still a bit of an investment if you have a lower budget to work with.

Pros

  • Sharp blades
  • Shanks are removable
  • It contains 3 different sized tenon cutters
  • It comes with Forstner bit included

Cons

  • Pricey if you have a lower budget

4. Lumberjack Tools 2″ Tenon Cuter – Best for Larger Projects

Key Specs

  • Cutter Size: 2″
  • Removable Shank: Yes
  • Fits Drill Size: ½.”
  • Shoulder Type: Radius

The Lumberjack Tools 2″ Radius Cutter is good for larger projects like chairs, coffee tables, and so on. It requires a drill with a chuck size of ½” with a low RPM of under 500.

The shank is removable, so you can take it out and replace it if necessary. The blades are super-sharp and durable and can withstand up to 1,000 cuts without needing to be sharpened. In addition, it has a radius shoulder profile, which is ideal if you want a more refined look.

The cutter is powder-coated, which makes it corrosion-resistant. It’s also coated in durable paint, making it chip-resistant. It’s a high-quality cutter that should last you a long time. The downside is that it doesn’t include a Forstner bit.

Pros

  • Very sharp blades
  • Good for larger projects
  • Shank can be removed
  • Corrosion-resistant

Cons

  • It doesn’t include Forstner bit

5. Lumberjack Tools 1″ and 2″ Pro Starter Kit – Best Premium Tenon Cutter

Key Specs

  • Cutter Size: 1″ and 2″
  • Removable Shank: Yes
  • Fits Drill Size: ½.”
  • Shoulder Type: Radius

The Lumberjack Tools 1″ and 2″ Pro Starter Kit is on the pricey side for 2 tenon cutters, but they are of such high quality that they will last for a long time. They require a drill with a chuck size of ½” with an RPM of 500 or less.

The shanks are removable, so you can remove them and replace them if they get worn or broken. The carbon steel blades are sharp and durable and work quickly. They both have a radius shoulder type, giving you a more refined look.

They include an in-sight measurement system, which means you can make cuts without measuring first. However, this is pretty fiddly to use and may take a bit of practice.

The cutters are made from aluminum, and they’re super-durable and tough. The kit includes a Forstner bit too.

Pros

  • Great quality carbon steel blades
  • High-quality aluminum cutters
  • Removable shanks

Cons

  • The in-sight measurement system is a bit tricky to use

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you go, here are some frequently asked questions about tenon cutters:

Question: What projects can I make with a tenon cutter?

Answer: Tenon cutters are ideal for rustic projects – think log furniture, railings, tables, chairs, and so on. Smaller tenon cutters are ideal for projects like log decorations, small side tables, etc.

Question: Is it worth having different-sized tenon cutters?

Answer: It depends on what you plan to make. If you’re a log furniture enthusiast, it’s worth investing in a set of different sizes, as it gives you a lot of scope for projects. However, if you’re just starting, you may want to choose a lower-priced tenon cutter to see if you can get a feel for it, to save you investing money into something you won’t use.

Question: What type of wood can I use to make log furniture?

Answer: Technically you can use any kind of wood as long as it’s strong enough for the projects you want to make. Popular wood types include aspen, cedar, walnut, willow, and pine. Of course, hickory and oak are strong woods, too.
If you want to cut your own wood, our guides on How to Find the Best Felling Axe and How to Find the Best Chainsaw can point you in the right direction for new gear.

To Sum Up … Which is the Best Tenon Cutter?

Any of the tenon cutters we’ve looked at today will be a good choice if you want to make log furniture or railings. However, if we had to pick a favorite, we’d go for the lumberjack Tools Tenon Cutter Set. It’s a great set if you are a log furniture enthusiast and will give you all the basic sizes you need to create a whole variety of projects.

However, if your budget won’t stretch that far, or you just want to test out log furniture making, we’d recommend the Timber Tuff 1″ Tenon Cutter with Forstner Bit. It’s decently priced and contains a Forstner bit too, which is great.

Hopefully, this has helped you to find the best tenon cutter for you, so you can make all the log furniture projects you’ve been dreaming of!

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