Other bloggers are wary of pulling down their pants. Not me.
I suck at a lot of things, but I really and truly suck at mortising by hand. The problem isn’t really my results – I can get a clean, straight hole. The problem is I’m so dang slow. I have tried every method out there. I practice during lulls in my schedule. I have a good sharp chisel and a strong mallet.
Honest, I have been at this for years and years – since I cut my first mortise by hand in 1993. You can’t help me. Don’t try. I am the mouth-breather of hand-mortising.
This week I’m quite stressed about it. You see, slowness doesn’t hurt anything when you can simply work until 1 a.m. in your own dang shop. But this weekend I’m taping a couple episodes of “The Woodwright’s Shop” with Roy Underhill, and I’m going to have to mortise for the camera. And we only have 23 minutes and 41.5 seconds for the whole show. That should be enough for me to cut one or two mortises (and it’s not even a show about mortising).
So this week I’ve been trying to speed up my mortising act while building a bunch of try squares that each have a through-mortise and a bridle joint.
So far, I have shaved at least half a second off my time per mortise. (Victory lap!)
If you stink at mortising, check out Jeff Gorman’s excellent site here. He surveys the pros and cons of many methods. In fact, it was from Gorman that I learned the “central-vee” method of mortising, which is my favorite.
Anyway, back to the basement to bash some wood.
— Christopher Schwarz