Roubo-Moxon Bench Build #2: No Such Thing As a Lazy Mortise

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Blog entry by Eric posted 09-14-2010 03:48 AM 2312 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Building a Workbench Is Easy, and Lazy Mortises Part 2 of Roubo-Moxon Bench Build series Part 3: Eric Uses a Power Tool »

Since my last post, I’ve done some preparations for traveling, traveling, and recovering from traveling, so I haven’t had much shop time. Last night I had an hour or two. I had been considering building my double-screw Moxon vise for the Instructables woodworking contest. Nice prizes! But I figured I’d better stay focused and try to make more progress on the bench.

Next step: mortising the legs for the short stretchers. In my last post I suggested that it’d be “easy” to just drill pilot holes at the midpoint of each wall of the mortise and then insert a hacksaw blade in the hole, and to cut from the hole towards each corner of the mortise. Well, that wouldn’t work. The hacksaw blade is just not agressive nor accurate enough to do the trick. Back to Plan B – which is Plan A for most of you: drill holes (overlapping, if possible) and then clean out the waste with a chisel.

Easier said than done.

A few things make this a tough task. First and most importantly, I don’t have the right-sized bit. Ideally, the hole will extend from one wall to the other, right? Well I have two expansive bits: one that extends to 1 1/2” and the other which starts at 1 3/4”. Guess what width my mortise is? Yup – in between those two. So what I’ve had to do is to overextend my smaller bit, which mostly works, but after each hole I have to readjust the bit which has slipped because the screw can’t tighten the bit quite enough.

Another difficulty is boring with a large bit through 4” of hardwood with a bit brace. Quite the workout! So last night I didn’t make too much progress. I figured out what bit to use and how far to extend it. And I got started on one side of one leg (see above). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get very far in the center hole before the bit refused to stay in the pilot hole any longer. Next – most likely today or this evening – I’ll flip the leg over and finish the mortise – hoping my marks are lined up!

-- Eric at

2 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8540 posts in 3797 days

#1 posted 09-14-2010 03:58 AM

ok, before you proceed with the rest of the mortises (and knowing how much of a workout it is to hog that much material with a brace myself) – how about using a small drill bit, and drilling the perimeter of the motrise, then with a chisel knock off the ‘walls’ between the small holes, and take out the entire chunk of wood – then clean it up all around with the chisel. it may be more holes, but each one will be much easier to handle and less energy on your part in total.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3932 days

#2 posted 09-14-2010 04:09 AM

Decent suggestion! I’ll try that on mortise #2 and let everyone know how it works! Thanks for the suggestion bro.

-- Eric at

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