Tools Anonymous #7: When the moon hits your eye..... it's a mortise (now with tenons)

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Blog entry by Sandra posted 02-24-2013 02:45 AM 2401 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: My shiny new Rikon 10-325 Part 7 of Tools Anonymous series Part 8: My three Stanleys »

So I’ve decided to build my workbench and have settled on this for a design from Fine Woodworking:

It’s a nice size for my work area, and will definitely be a skill builder. I can make the bench with or without the drawers, but I’d like to give them a try as well. The frame is mortise and tenon and the drawers are made with box joints, neither of which I’ve ever tried.

Yesterday I fired up the jointer and planer and dressed the lumber for the frame. I had bought some rough birch and maple last summer and after doing some ‘ciphering’ I managed to get all the parts for the frame out of birch. I don’t have much maple, so will have to get some more when it comes time to build the top.

I measured and marked off the mortises and really should have stopped there. Of course I was dying to break out my newly sharpened chisels for just a few minutes… We all know how that goes.

So here it is folks, my very first mortise. Only fifteen more to go. At the speed I did the first one, I should be done in about 5 years!

I suspect my body is going to be rather upset with my eagerness tomorrow. Have a great night.


-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

19 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8587 posts in 2864 days

#1 posted 02-24-2013 02:56 AM

Good job! I might suggest some scrap wood joinery practice. My 3 P’s martra. “Patirnce (sp?) Persistance, Practice” I tend to screw things up with impulsive decisions. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2097 days

#2 posted 02-24-2013 03:26 AM

Good point doc. My next step is to do a tenon on a piece of scrap wood on the bandsaw. Once I get it right, I can use it on the mortises as I do them to check for fit.

My persistence has never been lacking. Practice is only at so-so. Patience is a work in progress!

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 2161 days

#3 posted 02-24-2013 03:30 AM

Might I suggest a wider chisel for those big mortises? The smaller ones are good for getting the corners nice and sharp, but the wider ones will make cleaning the shoulders much easier.

-- -=Pride is not a sin=-

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2097 days

#4 posted 02-24-2013 03:33 AM

Good suggestion grf – I did use a wider chisel, but had the smaller one out to clean out the corners. I’m still trying to get the hang of the larger ones, but that little one was the bees knees.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3107 days

#5 posted 02-24-2013 03:42 AM

Looking at the two holes in the bottom of the mortise and the outline of a circle, I can see that you were smart
and cleared the bulk of the wood out with a drill bit. If you use your drill press and some smaller bits in the
corners and the center area, you can remove a lot more wood with the drill and save some exertion. I am not
lazy, at my age I am learning to maximize my muscle effort, or as Pogo said “I is the laziest person in the
world, people will just not give a chance to prove it.” Thank you for sharing, and keep having fun in your
happy place.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2097 days

#6 posted 02-24-2013 03:47 AM

Thanks Gus,
I did use a forstner bit in the centre, but I could use a bigger one the next time. Hadn’t thought of using a small one in the corners. I definitely had fun!

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 2161 days

#7 posted 02-24-2013 04:49 AM

If you do use smaller ones in the corners, be sure to drill those first. If you try to do it after you’ve drilled the bigger ones, the bit will walk on you and just end up in the bigger hole. Just something I’ve learned after mangling a mortise.

-- -=Pride is not a sin=-

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2697 days

#8 posted 02-24-2013 05:22 AM

I’m glad you decided to build “YOUR” workbench. I’m looking forward to following your ordeal, err journey!!!

I know from your signature that you don’t want a pink hammer, but what about….

I’m sorry! I saw this display and couldn’t help but think of your signature line!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29379 posts in 2360 days

#9 posted 02-24-2013 11:16 AM

You’re doing great! As far as your body being upset tomorrow, that just means that your getting older. Everything hurts after a while. :-(

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2097 days

#10 posted 02-24-2013 12:13 PM

Thanks grf – I’ll keep that in mind and give it a go.
Monte – I thought I wasn’t getting old, just becoming seasoned.

and Randy – that started my day off with a good laugh.

Thanks gents.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2826 days

#11 posted 02-24-2013 01:08 PM

Looks like your bench is comin along nicely. Like above said, patience, etc. Keep on keepin on

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#12 posted 02-24-2013 03:04 PM

Hi Sandra. Good work on your mortise. Here is a link to a blog which might help you speed up quite a bit. My not particularly good demonstration of an English master woodworker’s technique. The demo mortise is a little rough, but I forgot to clamp down the workpiece!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2859 days

#13 posted 02-24-2013 03:26 PM

Good choice on the bench – looks sturdy, simple and functional. Nice job on your 1st mortise, I wish I had done as well on my 1st. Just in case you don’t know the fine details of cutting your tenon, cut it a bit fat and shave it down to a good fit. Also, cut it a little short so it doesn’t bottom out. I’m probably waisting my time telling you these things; judging from your mortise cut, looks like you’ve done some homework.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View Holbs's profile


1878 posts in 2051 days

#14 posted 02-24-2013 07:22 PM

it took me 4 tries of a 1/2 mortise to get the hang of it. i plan to do 16 of them in my workbench.
i purposely bought a board of poplar to do trial runs on (as suggested here on LJ’s to learn mortise techniques). glad i did because my first couple mortises looked like a bomb crater. i did buy the Rogowski joinery book, 4 dewault chisels (made in england, not china) at HD, and a Lee valley mortise gauge. and lots of you tube videos were watched :) it was a slow progress, but at same time fun!

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2712 days

#15 posted 02-25-2013 03:01 AM

Good choice to build your bench (and a nice design). You will learn a lot as well as having a lot of fun. And you will always be proud that you made it all by yourself! Enjoy and work safe. And don’t paint the legs green! (pink maybe)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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