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
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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.
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.
Owen Lowe and his Fly-by-Night Copper Company
Offering a shim for the Porter-Cable 557 type 2 fence design.
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.
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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