Cutting through mortises

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Forum topic by BigAxe posted 05-11-2014 07:04 PM 2156 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 1639 days

05-11-2014 07:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am trying to cut through mortise using mortising chisels. I start on each side and work to the middle.
The problem I have is that the holes have a ragged look.
With blind mortises the shoulders of the tenons hide the edge of the mortise.
Any suggestions.?


8 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


9249 posts in 1454 days

#1 posted 05-11-2014 07:05 PM

Chisels sharp?

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Tim's profile


3784 posts in 1929 days

#2 posted 05-11-2014 07:14 PM

A properly placed block of the right thickness can help guide a paring chisel. Clamp the piece with the mortise on it’s side for example with the guide butted up against the mortise wall and pare away till it’s as clean as you like it. Then switch and go in from the other side. Then size your tenon.

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 1864 days

#3 posted 05-11-2014 07:20 PM

I’m including a video of Paul Sellers cutting a through mortise along with a suggestion. You can use a straight edge and a razor to establish knife walls around the entire mortise to ensure a crisp sharp edge. Just make several passes along the straight edge to reach a depth of an 1/8” or so prior to using the chisel. And be careful not to pry against the edges of the mortise, Paul shows the proper technique.
here’s a link to Christopher Tribe demonstrating how to cut a shoulder as described above

View Loren's profile


10276 posts in 3615 days

#4 posted 05-11-2014 07:21 PM

Through mortises can be tricky. One way to clean
up the outside is leave the stock oversized, then plane
away bruising on the outside face after the mortise
is cut.

Another approach you may want to try is carefully
marking and excavating the outside mortise to
about 1/8” deep with paring chisels, then cut it
to depth using the mortise chisels. Leave material
on the ends to lever your mortise chisel against, then
pare the mortise to length after the bulk of the
material is out.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1836 days

#5 posted 05-11-2014 07:39 PM

Wow. Watching Paul Sellers makes it look far easier than when I did mine on my workbench. I wish I had watched this prior. Technique is always the key, but if you don’t know it, you can’t use it.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View dawsonbob's profile


2822 posts in 1723 days

#6 posted 05-11-2014 07:43 PM

Mr. Sellers always amazes me. He does the difficult so effortlessly.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#7 posted 05-11-2014 10:07 PM

I start in the center area and work toward the ends of the mortise.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2455 days

#8 posted 05-11-2014 11:18 PM

Easy way is to bore holes with a brace and bit in a line just short of the size of the needed mortice.

Once that is done, use your paring chisel to clean up the rough stuff.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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