Monday, September 05, 2011

Making mortises - a simple approach

The glow of my little vacation getaway is long gone, and even though there aren't any classes going on right now, I am buried in work!

Have I ever mentioned how I hate deadlines? I'm working on a project for one of the local libraries, and while it isn't a particularly difficult project, there is a ton of detail work. I'm up against the wall; these pieces have to be delivered in less than 8 days.

This project required some rather large mortises to be cut into thick blocks of wood. You know what a mortise is - right? (It's a square or rectangular shaped hole.) My Powermatic mortiser took a beating during the Chairmaking class that recently finished - all of the bits are dull and the tool needs a thorough cleaning and adjustment, so I decided to machine the holes another way.

One of the easiest ways to make a mortise is to cut a dado into a board, and then rip the board in half. Fold it together and you have an instant mortise. By making it out of one wider board, you can bookmatch the pieces of wood, and the effect is gorgeous. Here's what I mean.

In this case, I needed a 1 1/2" wide mortise, so I set my dado blade up to cut a 3/4" wide slot. This set-up block lets me check the width, to make sure it is perfect.

Using my radial arm saw and a stop block on the fence, I cut two perfectly centered dados.

The board goes from this

to this.

Rip it down the middle and

fold it together like a book (hence the term - bookmatched) and you create a perfect mortise, with crazy-attractive grain in the wood.

These posts will fit into those mortises

and the final projects will end up looking like this. Here are two of the six partitions I'm building.

I brought Stella to the shop with me, I knew it would be a long day and I'd rather have her at the shop with me, than home getting into trouble. She was a little bored.

She really needs a hair cut, and my groomer isn't returning my phone calls, so I may end up adding "dog stylist" to my resume - I am going to try to shave her today. What's the worst that can happen?

1 comment:

Michael Paxton said...

Ummm, you could end up with a shaved dog...