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Thread: Preferred Method for Cutting Mortises Wider than the Chisel

  1. #1
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    Preferred Method for Cutting Mortises Wider than the Chisel

    The title says it all. What is your preferred method for cutting a mortise that is wider than the chisel (no longer but wider.) Example: Cut a 3/4" wide X 3" long mortise with a 1/2" chisel

    Thanks, Curt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Putnam View Post
    The title says it all. What is your preferred method for cutting a mortise that is wider than the chisel (no longer but wider.) Example: Cut a 3/4" wide X 3" long mortise with a 1/2" chisel

    Thanks, Curt
    From what I’ve read in multiple sources, it’s best to avoid that situation and go with either smaller mortise or a double mortise. Best would be to have a 3/4” chisel. But I haven’t come against this. If I did, I’d probably start on one side with your preferred mortise technique and then use the same chisel to take off the remainder.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Putnam View Post
    The title says it all. What is your preferred method for cutting a mortise that is wider than the chisel (no longer but wider.) Example: Cut a 3/4" wide X 3" long mortise with a 1/2" chisel

    Thanks, Curt

    Curt,

    A couple of options, both work and I expect there are others. One is to drill and then pare, it is not my favorite but it can work well. Another is to use a chisel that is smaller than half the size of the mortise. Make twin mortises then chop the middle. Which one I use depends on how large I can make the twin mortises.

    BTW, sometimes it is best to just make twin mortises if there is room.

    ken

  4. #4
    1/4" down both sides and then whack out the middle. Been there, done that.

  5. #5
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    What Ken and Chris said. Two 1/4 mortises and an easy clean up in the middle. Driving a 3/4 chisel thru some woods will give you a beating as much as you are giving it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Putnam View Post
    The title says it all. What is your preferred method for cutting a mortise that is wider than the chisel (no longer but wider.) Example: Cut a 3/4" wide X 3" long mortise with a 1/2" chisel

    Thanks, Curt
    My preferred method is to use a bigger chisel.

    Gonna Need a Bigger Chisel.jpg

    This 3/4" chisel was marked USN on the top and Winstead Edge Tool Co on the underside. It cost $3 plus tax at a second hand store.
    The 1/2" lock mortise chisel on the bench cost close to $70, with shipping from Great Briton, on ebay. Lock mortise or swan neck chisels are rarely seen in the wild.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 08-10-2020 at 9:29 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
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    I would bore them out then pare to my layout lines. It's quick and accurate.
    Your endgrain is like your bellybutton. Yes, I know you have it. No, I don't want to see it.

  8. #8
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    Thank you gentlemen! Sonce I have 16 more of these suckers to do, I have chosen to drill and pare.

  9. #9
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    Good call.
    It will work, and you'll finish.

    FYI - you can chop mortices with regular bevel chisels.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    Good call.
    It will work, and you'll finish.

    FYI - you can chop mortices with regular bevel chisels.
    Or firmer chisels, Narex makes some firmer chisels that work well for larger mortises

    ken

  11. #11
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    5/16" mortise..vs. 1/4" chisel..= "hopscotch"
    first cut to the left(or right) side, move a little bit, next chop to the other side....repeat until the other end has been reached. Clean out the chips, and repeat again, until the depth is reached. I then pare the sides with a wide chisel...1" or wider.

    Then, onto the next mortise....without having to leave the bench.

  12. #12
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    Not a problem once you have used a chisel enough to easily do accurate work with it. I have done 4",and even 6" wide mortises many times with a 1" or 3/4" chisel. PRACTICE !!!!!

    You can find yourself doing very wide mortises even on tavern size tables if you use the correct haunched mortise and tenon joints.

  13. #13
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    Or you could drill a hole and use dowel pins glued into the holes.

  14. #14
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    As George says, this is easy to do with a bit of experience. This project will get you there, however you should have more chisels. I'd drill first then then use 3/4" and 2"chisels. Might grab a 5/8" to rough it out.

  15. #15
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    No one ever told me you were supposed to cut them all in one go, so I've just chopped them out alternating sides with a narrower chisel. A couple of time when I've tried doing a mortise the exact width of the chisel I've sometimes managed to wedge it pretty good. Having a little clearance actually seemed useful. Why does what I've been doing not work?

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