I have always rather struggled with making mortices. Tenons are less of a problem. Getting the waste out of the mortice hole and avoiding bruising the shoulders was always a challenge. Having made a couple of handfuls of M&T joints on the joined stool following P Folansbee Esq’s advice, I have more confidence in setting out and bashing away at the chisel, and now I can produce a reasonably sharp mortice chisel. However, I have refined my own technique a little. Following an expensive break out of the side of a stool leg mortice I now cramp the sides to avoid accidents.
Looks a little industrial I realise, but essentially the wooden screw cramp is holding the sides of the stool leg in its grip. Because the leg is pentagonal (more later) I need a V-block (thanks David) in the cramp as well. Then one holdfast is pinning the cramp to the bench. Just to make sure everything is good and solid I have another holdfast pinning down the leg itself. (Blimey! That chisel edge looks rather close to the holdfast – Ed).
Now then (as we like to say in Yorkshire), the softener under the second holdfast comes in very handy as a sacrificial fulcrum for the chisel, thus saving the edge of the mortice.
OK that’s actually the top end of the mortice which is not seen as it will be inside the joint. I now also appreciate how important it is to start off using the chisel with the bevel facing the ends of the mortice, makes levering out the waste much easier, and then using the flat side when approaching the shoulders and then turning it round again to lever out the waste at the ends, so the fulcrum is the top end of the bevel which is down in the hole, not at the shoulder.
I have also filed a mark on the chisel at 1 and 3/8ths for 1 and 1/4 inch tenons. This makes getting the correct depth much easier.
It was quite a worry working out what the shape of the legs should be for a joined three-legger. I did lots of drawing on charcoal bags and test leg end grain, but finally reverted to schoolboy geometry, or what I remembered of it.
The angle of the nose is very off-putting when starting from square timber and using one only of the square corners. I have about 2 weeks to finish this stool for a competition, but at the end of today I have all the aprons fitting properly and the top nearly done, and the rails ready for making the second tenons. Phew.
It was Harlow Carr‘s Taste of Autumn last weekend, which was a really good event, lots of visitors and fine weather (apart from a little rain on the Saturday morning, which we won’t mention).
Owen Jones MBE was there making his beautiful and very practical swill baskets. I must say his shelter is very enviable for its small size (mind you he doesn’t have to accommodate a flippin’ pole lathe).
We were also delightfully entertained by the Barrow Band singing their hearts out about fruit and veg.