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Thread: Mortising sitting on a low bench

  1. #1
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    Mortising sitting on a low bench

    So I was reading “ Joined: A Bench Guide to Furniture Joinery” by Joshua Klein and he advocated chopping mortises while sitting on a low bench. So I went to my shop and chopped a couple of mortises in a piece of scrap sitting on my saw bench. My quick impression was very positive. I am about to embark on a bedside table build and will chop the mortises while sitting.

    Anyone tried this and not liked chopping them sitting?

  2. #2
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    Just fine method. From the history I have studied we started on the ground and worked up. Stand up benches came in with hard floors. Three legged benches, stools and saw horses were the norm for a very long time. The fast acting butt clamp, knee and leg clamps were a normal piece of kit.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, butt sitting on the narrow edge of a 2X4 can be a bit uncomfortable after a while.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Yeah, butt sitting on the narrow edge of a 2X4 can be a bit uncomfortable after a while.


    jtk
    Ha Ha. Very true but usually you have more than one to work on. That makes it a bit more comfortable than sitting on an ant hill on the ground.

  5. #5
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    I sit down whenever I can, for fine work. Sometimes, there is a piece too big, or long to get to a bench, so I use a vise called "Big Mike", as with this 20' long replacement wainscotting rail.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Pallas View Post
    Just fine method. From the history I have studied we started on the ground and worked up. Stand up benches came in with hard floors. Three legged benches, stools and saw horses were the norm for a very long time. The fast acting butt clamp, knee and leg clamps were a normal piece of kit.
    The butt clamp seemed quite convenient and I found a matching scrap to sit on that made it fairly comfortable. When I do the legs of the bedside table, should be plenty to sit on for comfort.

  7. #7
    Daniel O'Hagan taught me to mortise sitting down in 1978. He called it the California method, because that is where he learned it. Daniel used a small rug sample to lay over the stock and sat on that. I sometimes mortise sitting down, but most often on the bench.

    Peter Nicholson mentions the mortising bench in his 1812 work, but he only illustrates the work bench, not the mortise bench. There are illustrations of these benches in Diderot (1755) and Hulot (1775), which have workbenches as well. Generally the mortise benches are sturdier and heavier than sawing benches.

    Here is a picture of a Wheelwright's shop that is about 100 years old. One fellow is sitting on his workbench as he mortises.

    wheelwright carriagemqaker.jpg

  8. #8
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    “ Generally the mortise benches are sturdier and heavier than sawing benches.”

    My saw bench is built out of 2x material and is quite sturdy. Basically like the one at the link.

    https://thewoodwhisperer.com/viewer-...ved-saw-bench/

  9. #9
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    A few years ago....a Traditional Chinese Woodworking Forum was being shown around here, by David Weaver......in it, Grandpa would pull out his sawhorse, set the part ( or 2) on it, then a towel on the parts, then sit on the towel....and proceded to chop just about any mortise he wanted.....IF there was only one part being chopped, he'd add a second piece of stock, to widen the "seat". Sometimes, he would also sit on the part, while it was on his workbench.

    Might be worth looking up, just to see how fast he could chop a mortise....

  10. #10
    One of the "Mortise and Tenon" issues has an article about mortising benches and describes the construction.

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