Mortising quest.

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Forum topic by Mark posted 300 days ago 551 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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367 posts in 560 days

300 days ago

Morning all. I’m making a couple of foot stools Mission style. I usually use false tenons on the front of the legs to give the piece a through tenon look. This time I’m trying real through tenons. I have the leg set up on a drill press with a 3/8 brad point bit. I put a piece of scrap under the leg to prevent tear out from the bit. I drill holes as close together as I can, then clean out the waste with a chisel, but I still can’t get a clean straight cut. The tenons are tight in the mortise but I don’t have a clean tight fit on the front. There’s some times a bit of splitting. Any thoughts?
Thank you. Mark

-- Mark

4 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


4696 posts in 1162 days

#1 posted 300 days ago

Rasp maybe? I was amazed on how one swipe of the

fine rasp would make the joinery fit well.


View Loren's profile


7162 posts in 2233 days

#2 posted 300 days ago

It’s easier to make them appear to fit tight by using
wedges. The mortise is actually tapered a bit too,
but you can wedge without the taper too.

In terms of making a clean mortise with parallel sides
using a drill and chisel, carefully mark out the mortise
on both sides, drill undersized holes and pare carefully.
You can do it, just do carefully.

I find it easier to make such a mortise using a plunge
router to make a stopped mortise, flipping the work
over and using a pattern-trimming bit to cut though
from the other side.


View DrTebi's profile


119 posts in 1852 days

#3 posted 270 days ago

If your mortise doesn’t end up straight, maybe the drilled holes were not drilled straight in the first place? It’s just an idea, something to check.

I use a very simple method to level my drill press table, it only requires a steel rod, even a metal cloth-hanger works. It’s described here:

Again, it’s just a thought.

View paratrooper34's profile


760 posts in 1537 days

#4 posted 270 days ago

Mark, I see your post is a month old, so if you haven’t figured this out yet, here is my two cents. Since you are doing mission type furniture, I will assume you are using white oak? Using a brad point bit is probably the issue. Even a 3/8” bit can wander in the grain in white oak and give degraded results. I suggest you use a forstner type bit to hog out waste in a mortise as the bit will keep very stable while drilling. Good luck.

-- Mike

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