I started cutting the mortises and the dovetail sockets in the benchtop today and I can tell you a few things:
1. The dovetail socket takes about half the time and effort to make compared to the 5″ x 5″ x 1-1/2″ mortise. And it’s a cinch to get it crisp and perfect.
2. I’m glad I own a 2 lb. 9 oz. mallet.
3. I’m glad the benchtop isn’t hard maple.
To cut the mortise, I bored out most of the waste with an 1″ auger and a 10″-sweep brace (where did my 12″ brace go? And my 14″? Hmm). Then I bashed out the waste with a 1/2″ mortising chisel and the mallet, which I will henceforth from this day refer to as “Mongo.”
To fair the walls of the mortise, I used a big float. This is such a testosterone-laden task that , ouch , I can feel my forehead becoming more sloped as I type.
The dovetail socket, by comparison, was for wussy hominids. I sawed out the slopes of the socket. Then I cut a few kerfs down the middle of the waste and popped it out with a mortise chisel. Then I faired the wall of the socket with a router plane and cleaned up the corners with a paring chisel.
Then I walked to Kroger to get some Ben-Gay (just kidding; I actually bought some Rare VOS). Both are effective against sore joints.
– Christopher Schwarz