Review By Dean Bielanowski  Delta Website - http://www.deltamachinery.com


Delta 34-184 Universal Tenoning Jig

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

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Despite all the advances in joinery methods and technology these days, the good old mortise and tenon joint still remains one of the more popular joints for cabinet and furniture builders around the world. It offers a solid, strong joint, that when combined with today's quality glues, is hard to break!

Constructing mortise and tenon joints is a time consuming process. Originally hand crafted with chisels and saws, the joint could take a good hour or more to construct and perfect. These days, however, the process is somewhat easier and faster with new chisel mortising machines and table saws and routers that can create tenons very quickly and efficiently.

The table saw, combined with a bandsaw, can make tenons relatively quickly, but to make the process safer and more accurate, the table saw owner requires a tenoning jig. Today we will look at the Delta 34-184 Universal Tenoning jig to see how it stacks up.

Packaging and Assembly
The Delta 34-184 tenoning jig is packaged well in formed styrofoam and coated in copious amounts of grease/oil. It's always a great feeling to have your hands coated in grease from a new tool package, isn't it? At least you know its probably brand new! Anyway, after using half a bottle of mineral turpentine to clean up all the parts, assembly could begin. The grease had successfully inhibited all rust from the parts, which is a good start.

Instructions for assembly are supplied, and these are easy to follow. Assembly takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on how fast you are with Allen wrenches. I recall some woodworkers who had purchased similar tenoning jigs (not necessarily the Delta brand) having issues with burrs on the base of the jig, which leaves nice scratches and marks on the table saw surface. As a result, I quickly checked mine over and am happy to report that it looked and felt clean and smooth. The manual recommends coating all unpainted surfaces with a rust-inhibiting protectant, so I applied a non-silicon paste wax to these areas, and to the base which helps it glide across the table saw surface easier as well. 

The last step is adjusting the miter guide bar to the slots in your table saw. The adjustable bar means this jig can accommodate small variances in table saw miter slots that you might find across various manufacturers. Getting a snug fit in the miter slot is important, but you don't want it so snug that it becomes difficult to slide along. After an additional 15 minutes of guide bar adjustment and checking the tenoning jig was square with the table etc, we were ready to go!

Features

  • Adjustable Guide Bar for snug fit into miter slots
  • Can be used on both left tilt and right tilt table saws
  • Rapid and fine position adjustment
  • 2 jig handles for improved user safety
  • 2 Year Limited Warranty

In Use
Before using the 34-184 tenoning jig, we made sure we had it fine tuned to our saw for best accuracy. The function of the tenoning jig is quite simple. Basically, the tenoning jig allows you to hold lengths of material upright safely while you pass it through the blade. You could also use it to cut a slot in the end of timber if you had a need to do so, for spline or key-type joints if you had no other easier method of achieving this. The thickness of the slot is initially determined by your blade width, but with fine adjustments, you can widen the slot to your needs. Attempting this by hand would be quite fool hardy, particularly with long, narrow stock.

The clamping arm on the 34-184 is adjustable to accommodate various sizes, and thicknesses of material, and provides a solid grip on the workpiece, achieved by winding the clamping handle in and out. The design of this handle makes the clamping task quick and easy, and most importantly, comfortable as well. We we able to clamp and unclamp pieces very fast with this jig, which saves time and improves productivity if working in a commercial setting.

Setting up the piece to cut tenons can take time as a new user of such a jig. After you have made shoulder cuts for the tenon, you can set the workpiece in the tenoning jig to make the cheek cuts. Adjusting the workpiece to achieve the correct position to cut the cheeks can be achieved via rapid, or fine jig adjustments. To move the work support plate quickly, you must loosen the triangular (delta) locking knob, press down on the quick release button just behind it, then slide the jig in macro movement in or out as necessary. Fine adjustments are made by keeping the lock knob loosened, then turning the fine adjustment knob on the far left of the tenoning jig. Each full turn will equate to roughly 1/16" of movement. A graduated measure is cut into the adjustment bar to allow some accuracy when fine-tuning the position of the jig. Once you have the workpiece positioned for the cheek cut, remember to re-tighten the lock knob to keep it in place, check the piece is secured firmly in the jig, check your saw blade height, then switch on the machine ready for the cut. Note that you have to remove your saw blade guard and splitter to make the cuts, so extra caution is needed.

The guide bar does feature two round washer-type plates that will fit some T-shaped miter slots to eliminate the possibility of the jig raising up out of the miter slot during the cut. these can be removed for those miter slots that do not have the T-slot feature.

Ok so with everything ready to go, and saw blade spinning, grasp the two handles on the left side of the jig and move the jig forward, running the workpiece through the blade to make the cut. You can bring the jig back past the spinning blade relatively safely because the workpiece should be clamped firmly in the jig, although do note that Delta recommends that you turn the saw off before bringing the jig and workpiece back past the blade. You may find the offcut sometimes comes whizzing back at you, but generally it is a small piece, plus you should always stand out of the line of the blade anyway for any table saw cut. Keeping your hands on the handles ensures your precious body parts stay well away from the spinning blade during the cut, a good safety feature. After one side is cut, you can unclamp, turn the workpiece around, reclamp, and cut the other cheek of the tenon. Alternatively you could make multiple passes to remove material, eliminating the need to make shoulder cuts to begin with, although we found this took much longer, particularly if you have multiple tenons to create.

If you need to make angled tenons, the Delta 34-184 Tenoning Jig will suit this operation. It features an adjustable backstop, which can be tilted backward to accommodate angled cheek cuts. What it does not have is an angle gauge to aid in setting the stop, although this is not really necessary as you can set it with the end of your angled workpiece resting flat on the table.

Conclusion
Fit, finish, and accuracy are all there, as is sturdiness of construction. The Delta 34-184 Universal Tenoning jig is a heavy piece of equipment, but this assures safe and accurate woodworking practice. It performs the tasks it is designed to perform extremely well. Best of all, there is little or no maintenance to be carried out on such a product, except to check occasionally that everything is still square to your table and blade. For the furniture/cabinet makers, and table saw owners among us, the Delta 34-184 is certainly one piece of equipment that no workshop should be without. Highly recommended! 

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Delta Universal Tenoning Jig Photos
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Delta 34-184 components unpackaged and ready for assembly.


Graduated scale makes positioning for cuts a little easier.
 


Quick release clamping arm/handle


Coarse and fine adjustment is achieved by loosening the l
ocking knob.


Angular backrest support allows you to cut angled tenons


Hands safely out of harm's way.


Blade height set and ready to go!


Making the first cut to complete
the tenon.


A completed tenon. Looks good doesn't it?

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