Mortise marking

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Hi group,
I have been doing woodworking for a few years now but I am about to do my first serious mortise and tenon joints on a set of three nesting tables. I have watched Norm do these a lot but I don't have a dedicated mortiser. I will use either a router and jig to cut the mortises or a drill and chisel. I am wondering about your experience in doing accurate marking of the wood where the mortise is to be cut. I have seen various mortise marking gauges. Have you used these? Do you need these or is your hand and measuring ability proven steady enough to draw the lines some other way?
This group has invariably been helpful to me when I ask questions so I am looking forward to some help before this next step in improving my woodworking skills.
TIA.
Dick Snyder
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The mortise gage is recommended. You set the gage to match the width of the chisel. You set the mortise back from the edge and mark both the tenons and the mortises with the same setting so they match. I mark the ends of the mortises with a utility knife. I have sometimes marked just one edge of the mortise with a marking gage, mark the ends with a knife and just set the chisel against the one line. It works because the tenon width is the same as the chisel width. I still use the mortise gage to mark the tenons.
Woodwork magazine has had good information about this subject. You can download a pdf copy of the magazine if you care to.
Frank Klausz has a good video on mortise and tenon joinery. He shows using the chisel, router and the mortiser.
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That should be Woodworking Magazine. It is the Spring 2007 issue.
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Thanks. I will hunt around for the information after work tomorrow. I see that Frank Klausz has a website. Is that where I should look for the video?
I have seen two kinds of mortise gauges. One is a block of wood (I always see them made out of Rosewood) and other is a sharp wheel with a stop to set the distance. What kind do you use?
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and the mortiser.

Fine Woodworking has them as well.
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I have both :-)
I prefer the wheel for most marking, but use the mortise gage when marking m&t joints. Actually I have two of each. You can set one for one measurement and the other for another measurement and not lose a set-up in case of a screw-up in cutting or chopping.
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I am a machine guy myself. I would cut the mortise with a router and a jig. I like trhe simple one with two fences to sandwich the piece being mortised. Square up the mortise ends with a chisel. Cut the tenons on a router table with a little sled and backer for clean cuts. Cut the tenon wide and sneak up on the fit with a shoulder plane. Nice reason to buy a nice small hand tool. http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid=20370
As one person mentioned use a knife to cut the edges of the mortise where you will chiesl it. Also, if you will drill and chisel, then lay out the mortise with a knife to create clean edges, then dril and then chisel to the knife cut line.
wrote:

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"SonomaProducts.com" wrote:

a jig. I like trhe simple one with two fences to sandwich the piece being mortised. <snip>
I'm with you.
Router and a simple jig does a nice job.
I don't bother cleaning up the corners of the mortice, just leave them round since the strenght of the joint is achieved by the shear loading of the glue faces.
Knock the corners of the tenons off with a flat bastard file and assemble.
As suggested, sneak up on the tenon thickness since it has a major impact on the overall strength of the joint.
Just my $0.02.
Lew
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wrote:

The scribed line is what's important. It creates a groove to click your chisel into for the last paring cut to make a dead straight line. A 4 or 6" combination square and a knife works just as well, though requires a steadier hand, no big deal, since if you slip, you're marring the part that gets chopped out anyway.
That said, the Stanley 95 butt gage works even better as a mortise gage. Double beams, both narrow, easy to see what you're doing.

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Dick Snyder wrote:

I've used a combo square with a locked blade, steel ruler, LV marking gauge, and a Titemark to mark mortises.
When cutting them with a machine, router, DP, or mortiser, I find the combo square or ruler, and a sharp pencil, plenty accurate. With the machines, you'll have the benefit of fences or stops. If you reference the same faces for each set of mortises, the opposite ends of the same tenoned board, off of the fences or stops, it won't matter much if you're 1/32" or so off center where the tenoned board is inset from the mortised boards (ex:// typical aprons & legs). Both ends will be identical, so the interface will remain square.
If the tenoned board will be flush with the mortised board (ex:// many doors), you need to try a bit harder, but 1/64" can easily be cleaned up with a smooth plane or sanding block.
For handcut stuff, I like the two round marking (cutting) gauges, as I like the way the scored lines interface with the chisel tip for the final paring cuts.
I say have at with some scrap of the same species you'll be working.
BTW, if you're machining the mortises, cut the tenons last. This will allow you to cut them a hair oversize and trim them to fit. Trimming can be accomplished with a shoulder plane, rabbet block plane, block plane and paring chisel, rasp, or even a hard sanding block. As you trim the tenons, make pencil lines on each face to ensure you're removing material evenly, and slowly sneak up on the fit. Speed will come in time. If you accidentally make a tenon too thin, glue a strip of veneer or scrap block on (mind the grain), recut if necessary, and trim it.
If you rout the mortises, it will have round ends. I prefer the speed of knocking the corners off the tenons with a rasp or paring chisel, others chop out the corner of the mortise. I don't see a difference in the finished product, but the choice is up to the craftsperson. <G>
Take your time and practice lots, as this is probably the most important joint to learn and you'll get lots of payback from the practice.
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I use the Lee Valley saddle square on the end marks.
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2008 21:34:14 -0500, "Dick Snyder"

I have a hollow chisel mortiser but still prefer to use a router. Simple jig to set the mortise location on your piece. Flat board with a fence added and a couple of limit stops (can be adjustable) to set the feed length of the router. Work piece clamped in the jig, and clamped to the table. Usually takes me about a half hour to make a jig, and I tend to repeat the leg size so use them over. I have three thicknesses of legs covered.
Frank
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wrote:

I just rough locate with broad pencil then rout a sample and calibrate from that. The first mortice is never on the money so why waste time marking? I know the dimensionality of the tenon. I measure my first sample mortice and calculate how much wider/narrower, longer/shorter, centerline shift etc is necessary. Make the changes with the edge guides and stops. The second sample, minutes later, is usually correct. Much less time calibrating than going nutz with the layout. Jig: http://patwarner.com/router_morticing.html *******************************************************************

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Dick Snyder wrote:

If using power tools the marking is less critical because you have fixed-size jigs/templates/bits/fences. For hand-cut (including drill/chisel techniques) the marking is more important because it provides a registration point for the chisel.
For the ideal joint tightness you want the joint to go together dry by hand without requiring a hammer, but you should be able to pick it up by the tenon piece and not have the mortise piece fall off.
Chris
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I would study on mortise making using a router and many different jigs that are around.
This eliminates one challenge of what is the size of the mortise.
It will always be the very same for every single mortise and you just have to cut your tenons to fit.
I think every single magazine has come up with at least one decent mortising jig for routers.
Cut your tenons using a table saw jig or use your router table, which ever you are most comfortable with.
You notice I didn't mention a marking gauge ???
You don't need a gauge for accurate mortise work in my opinion.
Dick Snyder wrote:

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Does anyone use floating tenons? I saw those in a book on cabinetmaking and that certainly seems the way to go best for the machine guys here. Just mortise both pieces then cut the tenons from pre-rounded (1/4" roundover I think) stock cut to size.
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depictureboy wrote:

Like a Domino or Multi-router might also use? <G>
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Sounds like you are trying to make me a butt of some inside joke here. But my question was valid.
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For those who may be interested this is the book I think I read it in. Its by Andy Rae (Amazon.com product link shortened)
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I don't think you were being derided. The Domino is a great new tool from Festool that is like a biscuit joiner but cuts mortises for floating tennons and they sell you the tennons pre-made just like you buy biscuits. Thing is it is like $500 or more, can't recall exactly. The Multi-router is (to some of use) the holy grail of router tools. It holds a router and has a movable part holding table and a template following system for cutting mortises, tennons, dovetails, etc. A few thousand and about $3k pnce you get all setup with all the accesories.

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