Saturday Morning Mortise
Gosh , nothing more exciting on a Saturday morning than one’s first hand-cut through-mortise. In 2″-thick hard maple. On a critical piece.
I came in today to install as much as possible of the Benchcrafted Glide on the “Petite Roubo.” The plan was to finish making the parallel guide, chop its mortise and tenon and dry-fit the guide. Then, to bore the requisite holes for the screw, cut the guide’s slightly oversized through-mortise on the bench leg, and basically get everything done that can be done before we put the base together on Monday or Tuesday. (Those of you who are familiar with the Glide will realize that I’m going about this backa**ward , but time and circumstances dictate a change from the printed plans.)
Chris is teaching at Marc Adams’ this weekend, and this coming week will be filled with last-minute stuff for Woodworking in America, so if this bench is going to get done by Thursday, there is no option but for me to get everything but the base and final flattening done this weekend. (Chris says he can get the base built in just a handful of hours, using tailed tools.)
So, I strolled in about 10 a.m. (vat of coffee in hand), and expected to be done with everything I had to complete in a couple hours. Turns out, our hollow chisel mortiser can’t accommodate the width of the chop. And while I’ll be shaping the chop’s bottom later to a size that probably would fit on the table, I’m not ready to commit to a shape. And I’m not confident I could get the narrower sides at the chop’s bottom precisely parallel , or that I want them parallel (which would, of course, be critical to getting a straight through-mortise off the machine).
Next stop, the drill press. Maybe I could drill out most of the waste then square things up with a couple paring chisels? Nope. The table is about 1/16″ too small, front to back. And anyway, with most of the chop’s weight hanging out in space, I can’t, without a helping hand, hold it flat to the table and drill at the same time.
Right. My first completely hand-cut through-mortise it is. Here’s hoping I’ve picked up some skill by osmosis , and hoping that Chris doesn’t mind my borrowing his 1/4″ mortise chisel (which looks more like a mouse-sticker than a pig-sticker). And, it looks like just a few hours’ work isn’t going to cut it.