A hollow chisel and an auger bit work together to cut a mortise.

A hollow-chisel mortiser makes short work of cutting mortises. Here's what you need to know to get the best results.

When you only need to cut a few mortises for a small project, drilling out the waste and squaring the sides with a chisel works great. But when you're faced with the task of cutting a large number of mortises (like the 64 mortises for the chairs on page 20) then you need a method that's fast, accurate, and reliable. A hollow-chisel mortiser just might be the answer. SQUARE HOLES. A hollow-chisel mortiser is designed to

"drill" a square hole. (I'll talk more about that later.) It does the job of removing the waste and squaring up the walls of the mortise all in one stroke. That not only makes the work go faster, but helps you get consistent results every time.

AFFORDABLE. Benchtop mortisers are available at prices ranging from $200 to $450. So when you figure out the time you can save in a big project, they start to look pretty attractive. But like any tool, there are a few things you'll need to understand before you can consistently get good results.

HOW IT WORKS. The business end of a mortiser is the hollow chisel and auger bit combination, like the set shown in the left margin. They're available in several sizes to cut mortises from lA" up to wide. When drilling a mortise, the auger bit spins inside the chisel, cutting the hole and clearing the waste. The hollow chisel squares up the sides of the mortise as you plunge it into the workpiece.

THE MOTOR. A M>-hp, direct-drive motor is the standard on most benchtop mortisers (see photo on opposite page). But in terms of

Table Saw Techniques

A yoke attached to the quill of the drill press holds the chisel

Auger Bit Chart Size


â– Chuck Access

Depth Stop Adjuster drive speed, you'll find 1700 and 3400 RPM models. Unlike a drill press, the speed isn't adjustable.

Each type has its own advantages. The faster motor cuts more aggressively and is less likely to bog down during a cut. But the speed can also generate more heat. Too much heat can quickly dull your chisels and bits. The lower-speed models cut slower, but they also help reduce the heat build-up.

HANDLE. The strength of a mortiser lies in the rack-and-pinion plunge assembly. To take full advantage of this system, all mortisers have a long handle to drive the pinion and provide plenty of leverage to plunge the chisel into the work-piece. You'll really appreciate this mechanical advantage when you're chopping mortises in oak and other hardwoods.

CHUCK AND CHISEL LOCK. As I said earlier, most of the waste is removed by an auger bit that fits inside the hollow chisel. This bit fits into a standard drill chuck. Some mod-^ els include an extra-long chuck key to reach inside the case. A chisel lock holds the hollow chisel in position around the bit.

THE TABLE. While some mortisers have a cast iron table, an MDF table is more common on benchtop models. There's no real drawback to an MDF table, but it's important

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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