Mortise chisels

I plan to make my first M&T project which I want to finish by Thanksgiving. I have a set of regular chisels, but no mortise chisels. Is a sharp regular chisel suitable to square up and clean out the mortise? Mortise chisels seem fairly expensive, so I can't afford multiple sizes. If I can get 2 or maybe 3, which sizes would be the best? Thanks for any feedback. For reference, my projects tend to be small boxes to mid-size chests, not major cabinetwork.
-- Regards, - Al Fort Lauderdale, Florida To send email remove periods in username and nospam from the server name.
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On 08 Oct 2003, Al in South Fla spake unto rec.woodworking:

    If you are removing most of the waste by drilling, and just want to clean and square up the mortise, you don't need to buy mortise chisels.
    If you want to chop out the mortises using chisels ONLY, then mortise chisels are the only tool that will do the job properly. The thickness isn't only for strength, it keeps the sides of the mortise from wandering as you chop.
    Once you get the hang of it, chopping out mortises by hand is very fast, easy, and satisfying work.
    Generally speaking, get chisels that are approximately 1/3 the thickness of the wood you use. If you don't have a mortice marking gauge, I'd strongly recommend springing for one of those, too.
Scott
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I've gotten by quite nicely for several years with just two Sorby mortise chisels - 1/4" and 3/8" (IIRC). Mortises are generally 1/3 of the stock thickness, so judge the sizes you need with respect to the thicknesses you use most. I bought mine as I needed them so it wasn't a hit in the wallet.
Even when drilling the mortise, I still like the true mortise chisel as the heavy and straight sides to the chisel helps clean the walls and keep the chisel straight.
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I've been looking at getting a Mortise Chisel as well. It seems most people go with the thirds rule. Given this I guess a 1/4 should be the choice for 3/4 wood. would a 5/16 chisel work with 3/4 wood or would this be a week joint? I have a need for the 5/16 and only want to buy one (good chisel) since I don't smash that many mortises out.
wrote:

reference, my

cabinetwork.
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On 09 Oct 2003, john spake unto rec.woodworking:

    There's no hard and fast rule. You won't have any problems chopping a 5/16" mortise in 3/4" wood, other than laying it out. If I'm concerned that the wood I'm mortising will split, I put it in a Jorgensen handscrew clamp before taking the mallet to it.
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Not to mention that 4/4 hardwood is 13/16 after planing.

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