Sawbuck Table Part 3: Through Mortise

There are multiple methods you can use to create through mortises; pick one that fits your tools and experience.  Here is the method I use.

1.  Mill a scrap piece to the exact size that you desire your tenon to be.  Cut scrap pieces of plywood and glue/clamp them around the tenon.  Pull the tenon out before the glue dries so it does not get glued in place.  The goal is to create a template with a square opening representing the size of your tenon.

2.  After the glue dries, place the template where you desire the mortise to be cut and outline the mortise with a pencil.

3.  Staying well away from your pencil lines, drill out as much as possible.

4.  Position your template back in place, clamp it securely, and then use a marking knife to outline the opening. This will prevent tearout when you route in the next step.

5.  Using a router with a bearing guided bit, route out as deep as possible.  The bearing should ride the wall of the template.

7.  Square the corners with a chisel.  Use the walls of the template to guide the chisel and assist in keeping the chisel plumb.

7.  Remove the template.  Flip the work piece over.  Using a router with a guide bearing on the bottom of the bit, route out the rest of the mortise.  The bottom bearing will guide off of the square opening you created in the first 6 steps.

The result:

8.  Square off the mortise with a chisel.  I always touch up my chisels with a strop before this; white oak is hard on chisel edges, but a strop does a good job maintaining the edge.

The finished mortise.



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