Last week I assembled my new Delta mortising machine. Put in the bit and
made a few practice cuts in maple. Cut great and I was ready to go.
My first project, however is going to be pine. I got some furniture grade
stuff and figured it would be a good way to learn the art of m & t joints.
Using the same setup, the bit does not cut all that well. The maple gives
off a nice chip that is easily ejected through the slot in the chisel. The
pine loads up between the tip and the opening. In 16 cuts, I had to removed
it about 6 times. I have the chisel a little honing, but it seemed to make
little difference. I tried more clearance and it did not seem to matter.
Went back to the maple and it cut OK. I'm stumped. Any suggestions? I have
16 more mortises to make.
Oh, I used the "40¢" method of setup. I did not have a dime so I used a
nickel and five pennies. It that OK? ;)
Pine's horrible stuff. Fluffs up when you cut it, and there might be
resin in there too.
How many flutes on the auger ? There are one flute and two flute
versions. Single flutes have more space and are supposed to clear
chips better on softwoods.
I tend to use an undersized chisel, and plunge the first cut with a
lot of trouble. Then I cut adjacent to it, which doesn't bind in the
mortice because of the open side. It's quicker for me to cut four 3/8"
plunges than to cut one 3/4" plunge.
If you marked your mortises you could just go to the drill press first for
some preliminary material removal. Set depth stop (or not) and just drill
out quick holes inside the marked area. Then go to the mortiser and do your
mortising just to square it up and remove what material is left. It will
mean less hard work on the mortiser. I can't imagine it taking alot longer
either, since you'll be spending less time hanging from the lever arm on the
mortiser. Perhaps I am overstating it.
I've just got my mortiser so I don't claim to be an expert yet, but I've
thought of this scenario, i.e. what to do on really tough woods when I have
alot of stuff to remove. I remember the drill press was very fast doing
preliminary cuts before chiseling or routing. Its a similar concept to
using the DP to remove material before routing after all. Noone wants to
stand there with a plunge router and turn 50 cubic inches of hardwood into
powder to make mortises, the majority is removed on the drill press. So why
not apply the preliminary DP work to mortising as well. At least when it
comes to deep ones, or on woods that are annoying (like your beloved pine).
The software said it ran under Windows 98/NT/2000, or better.
So I installed it on Linux...
Pine is probably the toughest wood to mortise with a machine because
it is so soft and collapses rather than cuts. It can also be loaded
with sap that mkaes it clog stuff up.
I have had better success by taking half-bites in pine, but even that
depends on how soft and sappy (no wise cracks...) the wood is.
There's "pine" and "pine". Some sorts are much nicer to work than
Here in the UK, most of the "pine" that the Sheds sell is actually
low-grade spruce or hemlock. If you can find some half-decent pine
that wasn;t grown like a rocket, it's not too bad. I tend to stick to
100 year old reclamation, rather than new.
This was a Xmas present
Made from parana pine, it was quite pleasant to work. Parana has a
reputation for toughness, but I found it very easy going.
I had a similar problem when I was trying to teach my self how to hand
cut dovetails in pine. No matter how sharp I made the chisel the wood
I posted this fact to another NG and I was told to try it on a harder
wood. I picked up some Poplar and gave it another try. What a
difference the type of wood made. I still have a long way to go but I
practice on hardwood now and I get better every time.
Good Luck and God Speed.
What about drilling the hole out first with a 1/4" bit, and just using the
mortise chisel to square the hole? It's a whole extra step, but should
eliminate a lot of wood chips...
to e-mail, remove 'nojunk' from e-mail address
I may do that. The extra step will save time in the long run since I have
to remove the chisel to clear the bit every couple of holes.
From the little I've done so far, I don't anticipate problems from hardwood.
Of course, I did not anticipate problems here either.
I have the same machine... If the chisel is "razor sharp", it
will cut the pine, but pine seems to do better with a router,
which is not the answer you are looking for. Try using a piece
of poplar as your "test bed" to see how sharp the bits and the
chisel really are.
Even furniture grade white pine is bit of a pain to work with.
I have found that hardwoods seem to do the best with that machine.
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:
Just did 2 dozen M&T joints in oak today. It's a lot smoother & cleaner than pine.
Broke the 1/4" bit with 5 tenons to do. It just bound
in the piece and snapped. I sharpened the remaining piece of the bit on the sander,
lowered it and continued. Had to bear down a bit more
and didn't have flat forstner bottoms, but got the job done. Quarter inch chisel for
cleanup and now I need to get a new quarter inch
bit. So much for the ones with Delta. Recommenations appreciated ...
Not to sound snobish but lose the chisel mortise machine. Buy a
plunge router and build a nice sled for it to make the all important
mortises...If money is not an object then consider a horizontal boring
machine. Their spiral bits and fine ajustment capabilities are
Oak is good...Cherry is better...
I have a plunge router, but I like the idea of square TENONS. I've
never been able to make a pretty enough rounded tenon, except for once
in my Leigh jig (not the M&T - the dovetail).
I also have occasion to make angled through mortises through about 5"
of wood . Hard to do with a router.
 The wedges in this:
I use pine for all my projects and I do have a Delta mortise machine.
What I have found is the quality of pine, humidity content and where
the pine comes from makes a huge difference. Another detail that is
important is when the tree was cut down. We cut our pine tress for
furniture making during the coldest months (January / February). This
reduces the amount of sap found in the wood and will mill and finish
better. I recently made a bed and I expected some minor issues since
the pine was not furniture grade and the humidity level was high. I
was able to do the mortises by plunging the first pass about half
pulling out and completing the remaining depth. The following sides
usually go well.
I will be starting a new project this weekend with excellent quality
wood and I do not expect any problems. I will post the progress or
deceptions. BTW pine furniture making in my part of the country is
very popular and in demand. We also have an abundance of white pines
to work with.
We bought a Bennington pine dining room set back in 1976. Well made and
still beautiful furniture. It is massive compared to most with a 12/4 table
top and Admirals chairs that you can sit in comfortably for long periods of
While I like working with some "fancier" woods, pine is about half of what
I do. It is the only wood that I'll apply a stain to.
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