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"Best" way to make mortises?

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Forum topic by AandCstyle posted 578 days ago 2862 views 0 times favorited 53 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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AandCstyle

1288 posts in 892 days


578 days ago

I make a lot of Arts & Crafts style furniture as you may have guessed by my pseudonym. I have been using a Jet bench top mortiser that has been okay, but the hold down is poor at best IMO. Today I tried to make some mortises 3/8” wide by 3”long by 1 3/8” deep. The hold down didn’t work at all even though I was only making a shallow cut, then trying to back the chisel out and repeating. I tightened the set screw as much as I could without breaking the allen wrench. I quickly tired of that game, so I drilled the mortises out with the DP, then back to the mortiser to clean them out. Still no joy in the shop. :(

Therefore, can anyone suggest a mortiser that has a great hold down? Which other options might you suggest? Chisel and mallet (I am too old to start using hand tools)? Router and jigs (a possibility)? Domino? Multi-router (home made variety)? Any other options I haven’t mentioned?

Thanks, in advance for any assistance.

-- Art


53 replies so far

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1950 posts in 886 days


#1 posted 578 days ago

I did some M&T joints just today (small coffee table). I used a Forstner bit in the drill press to make the mortises. After cutting the mortises, I cleaned them up with a chisel, leaving the edges rounded. I rounded the tenons to match and assembled. I find that rounding the tenons is easier than squaring the mortises, and I don’t think the joinery is any less strong.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4843 posts in 1212 days


#2 posted 578 days ago

Get a Domino and save a ton of time.

Your fine furniture you make will go together easier as well.

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

2411 posts in 2377 days


#3 posted 578 days ago

I like using a plunge router, and made the jig from Fine Woodworking artical by Michael Fortune.
FWW #197
It works well for mortises in curved parts to, and used with a floating tennon.

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1793 days


#4 posted 578 days ago

Drill press with forstner bits here. Clean out with a chisel. I square the mortise corners.

Before my own shop, I would use my dad’s HF mortiser…worked just okay.

I’ve cut a few with router in the past. It’s okay, but I’ve gotten proficient enough with chisels that I don’t feel it saves any time.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Alongiron's profile

Alongiron

402 posts in 1328 days


#5 posted 578 days ago

My good buddy Art!

I have had a Delta model 14-651 (see far right of photo) for about 7 years and it has been great for me. If I remember correct I bought it on craigs list for $175. I did buy a set of new chisels for it that ran me about $125. I have not had the first issue with it and I like you make alot of A&C furniture.

Here is a link to one on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/DELTA-14-651-Professional-Mortising-Machine/dp/B00006K00N

Take care!

Steve!

-- Measure twice and cut once.....

View Loren's profile

Loren

7457 posts in 2283 days


#6 posted 578 days ago

I have a Powermatic 719 floor model mortiser. It has
a front clamp instead of a hold down. It’s a real robust
machine.

If you’re doing arts and crafts stuff you’re looking
at through mortises with squared corners at some
point if you want to build some of the classic pieces.
In terms of machinery, a hollow chisel mortiser offers
more depth of cut than other common machine
methods.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2495 posts in 986 days


#7 posted 578 days ago

I use a plunge router too, with an upcut spiral bit they come out pretty clean. Of course they have rounded ends and I just round the tenons to match, a few seconds w/ rasp is all it takes. I have not tried this on through mortises yet. I built a jig that was in an old issue of Woodsmith. Simple to make and it works well.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

1288 posts in 892 days


#8 posted 578 days ago

Don & Cosmic, I am reluctant to use a chisel since my previous efforts have been less than stellar. :)

Waho, I like the idea of the Domino, but am concerned that it might not be flexible enough, e.g. can it do through mortises?

DrDirt & Bondo, what router bits do you use? The longest I have seen in 3/8” and 1.5” and sometimes I would prefer a deeper mortise.

Steve, your suggestion might be the lowest cost option. What brand chisels did you buy, Fisch?

Loren, I would love a Powermatic 719, but it is difficult to justify now that I am retired (stealth gloat). I do watch CL, but have never seen one offered in Albuquerque. LOL

Thanks for all the suggestions thus far. Please keep them coming.

-- Art

View oluf's profile

oluf

256 posts in 1674 days


#9 posted 578 days ago

Keep a folded up rag and a can of Johnsons Wax next to your mortiser and wipe the outside of the chisel often. Your hold down will work much better. It also helps to polish the chisel with 400 sandpaper.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2495 posts in 986 days


#10 posted 578 days ago

I haven’t needed to make mortises longer than 1 1/2” so far.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Wally331's profile

Wally331

256 posts in 660 days


#11 posted 578 days ago

I haven’t personally built one yet, but Matthias Wandels multi slot mortising machine seems to perform extremely well. You can buy his plans for pretty cheap, and the construction doesn’t seem too difficult. I have built his bandsaw and his plans are put together very well and totally comprehensive.

Other then that, a plunge router with the correct guides can make very clean and accurate mortises.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112020 posts in 2212 days


#12 posted 578 days ago

I have a tilting head floor mortiser and a multi-router with a spiral router bit they both get the job done.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112020 posts in 2212 days


#13 posted 578 days ago

I forgot to say I have built a home made Multi router and it worked fine for years. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/34189

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View lwllms's profile

lwllms

542 posts in 1916 days


#14 posted 578 days ago

These do a pretty good job. Ever cut a 3/4” wide, 1 1/2” deep mortise in one pass with the mortising machine sounding like it’s not working at all? Being able to dial in settings in thousandths is kinda helpful too.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6926 posts in 1549 days


#15 posted 578 days ago

I built my own router based mortiser:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/56897

I have moved to floating tenons and that has worked well for me. So far I have made dados and rabbits as long as 30in. I make matching tenon stock by using the appropriate sized round-over bit and then cut to length.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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