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Thread: What have i gotten myself into?

  1. #1

    What have i gotten myself into?

    I had saved an online image of a plant stand at an antique store as a promising project, and some salvaged walnut (interesting long story here) was a good fit.

    Got the parts laid out, joined, and prepped, and in the process, had enough to make two pieces.

    Now the reality is setting in that there are 48 angled mortises to cut, all by hand.

    Maybe at least I'll be good at it by the end...


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    If my eyes are looking at this right, all the mortises will be at the same angle.

    How about cutting a piece of scrap at that angle as a guide.

    The mortise for the top might be different than the ones on the side. Maybe do those first to dry assemble to get the angle on the horizontal ones.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Dayton Ohio
    You could keep all the tendons straight and angle the grooves instead.

  4. #4
    Just tilt the mortiser head 5 degrees and you're good

    While I like my hand tools, this is why I'm not a total neander.
    I can cut mortises by hand but I really don't need/want to cut 48 of them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Central TX
    Totally out of curiosity - where are there 48 mortises in that piece? Could you alter the design so there's less? That's a lot of mortises for a plant stand...

    And yeah, a jig to guide your chisel, or using a mortising machine or router seems appropriate for that many. I just did 10 (normal) 2" deep mortises in a row in maple a couple of nights ago, and while it was totally doable by hand, I was thinking if I had many more to do I'd figure out a machine-based process to make it easier/faster.

  6. #6
    Yes, everything is at 4˚ angle. Only a few of them will fit in the mortiser, so probably not worth the set up.
    Thinking of making a guide block the full width of the sides, with sandpaper on both sides so it will keep the mortises in line and can be used to guide both sides- that is a good suggestion.
    Each shelf has 3 tenons and I'm making two stands, but if the tops had 4 tenons instead of 6 the total would be 44. The top tenons may be cut vertical so the top can be a separate glue up.
    Using a router is an interesting idea. Free-hand half the depth from each side to get the rough mortise might be quick and less risk of blowout than drilling out the waste on the DP.
    You can see the full scale plan in the pic, so the angles and dimensions are pretty clear.
    I'm guessing the original has the shelves in stopped dados, so it could have been a straight groove with an angled tenon. I've done angled M&T- a couple of benches with 16 each, but the number here jumped up.

    Thanks for the input.

  7. #7
    When I've done stuff like this in the past, I just set up the drill press with a forstner bit and angled the table. Then I hogged out most of the material on the drill press, and used the flat bottom I created with the forstner bit as a reference when cleaning up the rest of the mortises with a chisel. It took a while, but it was easy to do. And it took a whole lot less time than doing it all by hand.

  8. #8

    Laying out from one edge but the marking gauge won't reach the far side so made a bigger one- panel gauge I guess you call it.

    Made from a rosewood junk plane body from buddy's parents' estate. He (the dad) taught wood shop so I think these were student projects.

    Blade from a sawzall blade.


  9. #9
    Pretty piece!
    Sounds like you are doing it for fun, so enjoy the process.

    Never had to make that many uniform angled mortises.
    However, it was exciting to see if this would all go together.....


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm with Kipling - You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

    I'd route stopped grooves to mate with truncated full-length tenons. A beveled base plate on the router at 4*.

    Use the base plate to cut the grooves straight in. Leave the shelf tenons straight, but cut the shoulders with the same 4* base plate so the shoulders mate with the side walls when inserted into the grooves. Pretend these are through-tenons, but stop short of the outer surface.

    In my brain I can see all this fitting together properly - dunno if I explained it very well
    When I started woodworking, I didn't know squat. I have progressed in 30 years - now I do know squat.

  11. #11
    No prizes will be awarded for precision of the joinery, but it's coming along OK.

    I used a router with a small bit to rough cut the mortises from both sides, & mainly using the angle guide to cut between the tenons.


  12. #12
    Joinery looks quite good.
    When you put the wedges in, it will look perfect.

    I'd route stopped grooves to mate with truncated full-length tenons. A beveled base plate on the router at 4*

    I literally woke up in the middle of the night, the night after reading that, and forgot to address it.
    At least is does not appear to have been used.

    That works - so long as you make one, full width pass. E.g plunge router with tilt-base & very positive guide.
    Move the router to either side, and it cuts steps. Or ultimately a non-flat contour (without re-adjusting height each and every time)
    It is easier and almost foolproof, to make a control pattern, like for housing open stair treads, using a router collar, and putting the bevel on the pattern.

    Not that i ever discovered that the hard way.


  13. #13
    Joints fitted, shelves finish planed, sides shaping partial.

    Chisels to be sharpened.


  14. #14


  15. #15
    Got one of them all cut. The other just needs 8 more mortises in the top. There ended up being 8 in each top, but I angled the tenons so at least the mortises there are 90˚.

    The shelves got an edge detail as they looked too chunky after running the bead in the sides.

    I had sent the pic from the previous post to a buddy, and he immediately spotted that one of the shelves was upside down- I was wondering why things weren't fitting quite right.


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