Mortises

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A drill press and a couple of sharp chisels are all it takes to make short work out of cutting mortises.

groove to place the chisel ill when cleaning up the sides.

DRILL PRESS SETUP. With the mortises marked, I move to the drill press. The first step is to install a fence. It doesn't have to be anything fancy — a straight piece of stock clamped to the table will work fine.

Power tools are great for speed and ease of use. And for most jobs they're the practical choice. But when it comes to cutting mortises, you also need to do a little hand tool work to get the best results.

The nice thing about this combined technique is you can be sure all your mortises will be properly positioned. You just need to start with a good layout on your stock and you're ready to go.

LAYOUT. I like to use a combination square and knife to mark mortises, (Fig. 1). The knife is more accurate then a pencil, and it gives me a

Brad point bit

Forstner

Leave small space between each hole

Drill overlapping holes

Laying Out Mortise. Using a knife to lay ou r Forstner Bit. You can safely overlap Brad Point Bit. When using a brad-

the location of the mortise makes it easier to the holes with a Forstner bit since it point bit, leave some space between start the chisel when you clean up the s.aes .von't deflect during the cut. the holes to keep them straight.

Consistent Mortises. A spacer block placed between the workpiece and the stop block allows you to drill the first hole consistently.

Remove the Spacer Block. Remove the spacer and drill a series of holes, sliding the piece toward the stop block.

SECOND: Make angled cut — from end to create notch

Remove the Peaks. With a wide chisel, pare down the ridges. Use your weight to push down and slice through the wood.

Use light cuts to pare mortise to final size

Sides and ends of mortise should be smooth and square

FIRST: Start notch by angling chisel into corner from long side

SECOND: Make angled cut — from end to create notch

Completed notch

Cut long side -to notch then use ' | narrow chisel at ends

Notch the Comers. Starting with a notch in the top comers makes it easier to clean up the ends of the mortise with a smaller chisel.

The next thing you'll need to do is select the right drill bit. You'll find it works best if you use a drill bit about Vif," narrower in diameter than the width of the mortise. This way, you'll have plenty of room to square up the sides without letting the mortise get too wide.

I prefer to use Forstner bits because they leave a nice, smooth bottom in the mortise. But brad point bits will work too. You just need to use the technique that's right for the type of bit you use. Hie illustrations on the opposite page show the different methods. If you use a Forstner bit, remember to slow down the speed of the drill press and work the bit in and out of the hole to clear the chips.

DRILL THE MORTISE. With the drill bit installed, you're ready to start drilling out the waste. 1 find it helps to use a stop block and spacer block matches the width of the mortise. The wide blade helps keep a straight edge when smoothing the sides. The narrower chisel is for finishing the ends. The illustrations below show you the sequence I use to clean up the mortise.

You'll find it works best to start with the sides. Since you're working with the grain on these cuts, it's pretty easy going. When it comes to the ends, you'll be cutting across tire grain. So it's a good idea to make sure your chisel is really sharp before you begin.

Since the strength of the glue bond on the sides gives the joint its strength, you'll want to make the sides as smooth as you can.

With the mortises cut, you're ready to move on to the matching tenons. I find that starting with a well-cut mortise makes fitting them a much easier task.

How To: Use Stop Blocks_

Position the fence and a stop block to locate the hole in one end of the mortise. A spacer block locates the hole at the opposite end.

The spacer block is just a piece of scrap cut to the same length as the mortise, minus the diameter of the drill bit. (For a 2"-long mortise, cut with a V4" bit, you'll need a I'W-long block.) Make your first cut with the spacer in place. Then remove it and keep drilling out the waste until you hit the stop block.

Consistent Mortises. A spacer block placed between the workpiece and the stop block allows you to drill the first hole consistently.

Remove the Spacer Block. Remove the spacer and drill a series of holes, sliding the piece toward the stop block.

to keep the mortises properly positioned. You can begin by setting the fence so the bit is centered on the width of your layout marks. Then, slide the piece so the bit is at the left end of the layout mark. Now you can clamp a stop block to the fence. The box below explains how to complete the drilling operation by using a spacer block.

SQUARE THE MORTISE. After you've finished drilling out the holes, Ore next step is to clean up and square the mortise. For this, I begin by placing the workpiece in a vise or securing it to the bench with clamps. 1 like to work directly over the mortise so 1 can use my body weight to push down on the chisel. This position also gives me a better view of the work.

I use two sizes of chisels to clean up the mortise. Tire first is a wide blade {usually %"). The second

Remove the Peaks. With a wide chisel, pare down the ridges. Use your weight to push down and slice through the wood.

Cleaning Up the Bottom. The key to cleaning out the bottom is to use the chisel bevel down and make slow paring cuts.

Use light cuts to pare mortise to final size

Sides and ends of mortise should be smooth and square

Angle chisel to waste from ends

Anti-chip edge strip

Clamps

Guide rail enables you to make perfect cuts using an ordinary circular saw.

The basic system consists of two main components — an aluminum guide rail and a high-density plastic base that attaches to the base of your circular saw, A groove in the bottom of the base mates with a track on top of the rail. So all you have to do is clamp the guide rail to your workpiece, turn on your saw, and push it along the track.

ADVANTAGES. At first glance, the EZ Smart looks like a lot of other straightedge saw guides on the market. But there are some key differences in how the EZ Smart works. For starters, since the saw rides on top of the guide rail instead of alongside it, you don't have to worry about the blade drifting away from the guide.

Setting up to make a cut is easy too. Since you set the edge of the guide rail right on the layout line on your workpiece, there's no offset to worry about.

Guide rail get chip-free crosscuts or perfectly straight rip cuts. So when I heard about a product that claimed to solve this problem, I decided to take a closer look.

EZ SMART. The tool I'm talking about is called the EZ Smart Guide by Eurekazone. It was invented by a carpenter who was looking for a faster, safer, and more accurate way to cut plywood panels and other workpieces on the jobsite. But 1 found that it's also a great tool for the small shop because it

Clamps

When it comes to breaking down full sheets of plywood or other sheet goods, most of us with small shops end up having to use a handheld circular saw to cut the sheets down to a manageable size.

The drawback to this method has always been that it's difficult to

Anti-chip edge strip

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