Friday, August 25, 2017

Deep, Short, Narrow Mortises

I know, I know, I'm a little weird but I enjoy chopping mortises most of the time. I find a Zen like state.....tap, tap, lever, tap, tap, lever, repeat until everything that does not look like a mortise is removed. I can do the eight or sixteen needed for a table almost as fast as they can be done by machine. The one exception is a short, narrow, and deep mortise, like the one I had to chop for the vise garter last night. It was almost enough to make me buy a mortising machine. If there had been two of 'em I expect the AmEx would have been whipped out and I would be finding room in my overcrowded shop for another machine.

By the time I got to within about an inch of the promised land instead of chips all I could remove was dust or a stuck pigsticker. After an hour of whack, whack, try to lever and getting either dust or a stuck chisel I dug out the drill and drilled out most of the waste, paring out the rest to clean up. What a PITA.


  1. yeah, those do sound frustrating...i don't fully understand the application for this kind of mortise...what were the dims? was this for the moravian workbench?

    i wish i had your zen when it came to mortising. i'm kinda reaching for a drilling solution if there's ever an opportunity. you're right though: machine setup for mortising takes enough tinkering that a quick fella like yourself could just bang them out manually and move on to the next problem.

    travel safe to oregon

  2. Angostura,

    The mortise was for the vise screw garter. It was 50mm long by 10mm wide and 90mm deep. By the time you are 50mm or so deep there is little room to work.

    I've tried drilling and it is ok but with a good pigsticker on normal sized mortises I get better results just "banging them out". I expect if I drilled more often I would get better at it.

    Thanks, it is a long trip but MsBubba likes it on the coast and I like to see what is around the next bend in the road so there is something for both of us.


  3. Anonymous5:58 AM

    For a mortise with this aspect ratio, drilling makes sense.
    The leg vise of my great gran father workbench had no garter, you would have to pull back the chop by hand. I still have the screw and nut.

  4. Sylvain,

    Yeah, if a mortise gets deep enough and is short enough chopping is hard to do....I've often wondered how the "old guys" did 'em.

    The garter is a wonderful invention. I like this style of quick release much better than a fixed one. Easier to remove and replace the screw.