Design Elements

August 13, 2009

Housed Tenons

As an admirer of Greene and Greene furniture, I’ve always been interested in the housed tenon-a joint that was used extensively throughout their furniture, and anecdotally, it appears to have been used exclusively by them. Several folks have told me the Greene’s employed this joint because of the strength it added to joints; and others believe it was employed because it all but guaranteed that, if throughout its life a piece of furniture experienced significant wood movement, a gap would not open between legs and rails, splats, spindles, or crests. It’s easy to say that this additional strength and anti-gap insurance are reasonable features given the prices the Greens were charging. But there are too many others craftsman from this era (i.e.: Charles Rolfs, William Price, Elbert Hubbard etc) who in my mind were just as concerned with the quality and strength characteristics of their furniture who did not use the housed tenon. I wonder why?