Taking wood out of big mortise joint. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-11-2018, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Taking wood out of big mortise joint.

I am making a platform bed out of 4" x 12" planks. I am making the mortises 2" x 12". The tutorial suggested making 1" grids to do it. I tried that and it is not working. I think the grids have to be much smaller to do a good job. My first one ended up a little deeper than 2". I think I can fix that by putting in some shims and gluing them. However, they are not smooth at all. I think it is too much to take out with a chisel to get a smooth and even surface. I was thinking of using a router to do it but it seems that router blades only go down 2" but I need to go down about 2 and 1/4". I just have a circular saw but no table saw. What do people suggest I do? Than ks
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-11-2018, 10:50 AM
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If you can get 2" with the router you could always shorten the tenon. 1/4" isn't much. Most of the time a tenon on a bed is around 1" to 1 1/2".
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post #3 of 13 Old 12-11-2018, 12:04 PM
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You might post your plan to give everyone a better idea of what you are referring to. I made a bunk bed using 4"x 4" posts and 2"x 6" for the head boards/foot boards and 2"x 6" cross braces. The head boards/foot boards used mortices 1" deep with only Titebond glue. I used 3/8" bolts thru the posts to connect the bed rails and 1/2" plywood to support the mattresses. Your mortices can be made easier by clearing out most the wood with a drill, then chopping with a chisel. Using a keenly sharpened chisel will help a lot. Harbor freight sells a set of 3 HSS spiral router bits that can be used with a plunge router on a budget.
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Gary

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post #4 of 13 Old 12-11-2018, 01:43 PM
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That's a large mortise!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbsk View Post
I am making a platform bed out of 4" x 12" planks. I am making the mortises 2" x 12". The tutorial suggested making 1" grids to do it. I tried that and it is not working. I think the grids have to be much smaller to do a good job. My first one ended up a little deeper than 2". I think I can fix that by putting in some shims and gluing them. However, they are not smooth at all. I think it is too much to take out with a chisel to get a smooth and even surface. I was thinking of using a router to do it but it seems that router blades only go down 2" but I need to go down about 2 and 1/4". I just have a circular saw but no table saw. What do people suggest I do? Than ks
So, how to remove that much material?
I would use a Forstner bit either 1 1/2" or 1 /3/4" to start. Small one will work also if you don't have that size. Then using stops on your router clamped to the work, and an edge guide that will control the bit in from the edge, rout between the stops. If you have many I would make a template and use router guide bushings OR top bearing router bit at least 1/2" diameter by 2" long.

I had a bunch of mortises to make on this quilt rack and made a self centering jig for the router:





It's adjustable for different width boards and self centers because to the parallelogram design:


You use stops made of clamped blocks to control the lengths and the depth is controlled on the step rod on the base:




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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 13 Old 12-13-2018, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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For the platform bed, each corner will have a 4 x 12" section cut out. The planks are 4" thick so the plan is to cut them half way through or 2" deep. I thought of using a router but as far as I know the router blades only go 2" deep. I've been to HD, Lowes and another tool store. I started on two corners On one corner, I went too deep. The instructions say to make 1" grids and chisel them out. I found that is way too much material to take out at a time and messed up the grids but going too deep by 1/8 or 1/4". If I can get the surface even, I can glue on some shims I have on hand to make them 2" deep. How can I get the mortises smooth? My plan on the others is to make 1/4" or so grids and those will be pretty easy to chisel out. What can I do now? Does anyone have any suggestions? Here are the instructions. It is actually a pretty basic design. Thanks for the help.
https://www.instructables.com/id/Mas...-Platform-Bed/
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post #6 of 13 Old 12-13-2018, 04:19 PM
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Either you missed my post 4 above OR ...

You have no clue what a template is or how to make one....? A template will make all your cuts almost perfect and it's a one time deal if all your mortises are the same dimension.

A simple adjustable template:

You won't find an easier way to make those mortises. You can adjust the depth by making several passes down to your 2". You can either round over the tenons to fit the radius of the router bit OR square up the corners on the mortise.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #7 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 12:27 AM
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Hi gbsk,

I will offer what I can. Let me know if I can expand on anything...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbsk View Post
...I am making a platform bed out of 4" x 12" planks. I am making the mortises 2" x 12". The tutorial suggested making 1" grids to do it. I tried that and it is not working. I think the grids have to be much smaller to do a good job...
First a validation and apology...I am not a big fan of what is found on "Instructables" very often the guidance is poor and/or simply wrong at worst!

Your assumption about the waste removal is correct and this really isn't a "mortise" but a "lap joint housing."

I would also add here that the design of the bed is not really what it could (or should) be for the intended final outcome. A more traditional true mortise and tenon joinery system would serve it much better...but what's there can be made to work if you are already into it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbsk View Post
... My first one ended up a little deeper than 2". I think I can fix that by putting in some shims and gluing them. However, they are not smooth at all...What do people suggest I do?
I would glue in shims (with a good wood glue!) larger than they need to be and start the chiseling work over again and do it more neatly...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbsk View Post
...For the platform bed, each corner will have a 4 x 12" section cut out. The planks are 4" thick so the plan is to cut them half way through or 2" deep. I thought of using a router but as far as I know the router blades only go 2" deep...
That is not the tool for this work and doesn't really save that much time at all comparatively from hand tool application along with some kerfing cuts with a circle saw. I would (personally) just go after the bulk of the wood with a gouge, ax, or adz, but I do this for a living and you may not have those tools at hand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbsk View Post
...The instructions say to make 1" grids and chisel them out. I found that is way too much material to take out at a time and messed up the grids but going too deep by 1/8 or 1/4"...
Can't go to deep...!!!...as you have learned. Stay shy of the layout line by about 2 mm (I work metric sorry...) and the kerf pattern of 1" is just plain silly and bad advice as you have also learned...

10mm to 20mm at most apart for the kerfing grid will make waste removal (if employing this method) much easier...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbsk View Post
...How can I get the mortises smooth?
Take your time...be patient with yourself, the tools, and the wood...

AND...make sure your chisel is "shaving sharp" before you use it. I would (as I do with all beginners/students I teach) make sure you practice on a scrap piece of wood making your parring strokes with the chisel up to the line of your layout. That way you won't have anymore setbacks in the finish material. The tool and the wood will teach you more than my words ever could...

Let me know if I can expand on anything...

Regards,

j

P.S.

If you don't have some good hand planes (???) I would strongly recommend some if you are going to get into woodworking and a way to sharpen your tools as well. They need it everyday of use, to be in good order...
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post #8 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 01:25 AM
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A timber Framer's advice from Jay C

As a timber framer, Jay C's advice is pretty tool and skill specific. He already has the proper tools and skills after years of making these types of joints. This is fine for him, but not so good for a beginner starting out, but that's just my opinion.

I also have some very fine mortising chisels like this one:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Robert-Sorb...jzX:rk:13:pf:0

as well as all the smaller ones. But I don't have the skill or patience for making the size mortises you describe and that's why I suggested the router and a template guide. If you don't own a 1 3/4 HP or larger router, then my advice won't do you much good either. If you don't own some scary sharp mortising chisels like the Sorby, you will struggle to make these mortises by hand.

The quilt rack pictured above required 30 mortises and all but the smaller 12 of them were 1/2" wide and about 1/2" deep. Using a router made short work of them. Once the stops were set, a few passes at increasing depths, and each was done in less than a minute. OK, that's "wood machining" for some, but for me it got the job done quickly and precisely. Your choice of method depends on what tools you have on hand or would want to purchase, and how whether you desire making them by and or a router.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #9 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 09:15 AM
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[QUOTE=woodnthings;2024937]As a timber framer, Jay C's advice is pretty tool and skill specific. He already has the proper tools and skills after years of making these types of joints. This is fine for him, but not so good for a beginner starting out, but that's just my opinion.

I also have some very fine mortising chisels like this one:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Robert-Sorb...jzX:rk:13:pf:0

as well as all the smaller ones. But I don't have the skill or patience for making the size mortises you describe and that's why I suggested the router and a template guide....... (woodnthings)

Woodnthings, WHAT Jay says are the fundamentals of "our" craft . THESE are BASIC skills of WOOD working!!!! AS a beginner you SHOULD learn them PROPERLY.....BUT wait a minute, as a beginner you HAVE to learn ANYTHING properly....EVEN how to use a router and it's jigs. The problem with society as a whole today is we WANT the the mcdonalds drive thru experience with EVERYTHING we do....we want it our way WITHOUT the learning curve OR EFFORT. EVEN if a person doesn't have the skills OR patience as you stated yourself you DON'T have it DOESN'T stop the need to know them.

I have MANY years of welding experience BUT until I took a blacksmithing class a few years ago I didn't realize how MUCH I DIDN'T know about metal....I was told in welding classes the highlights BUT NOT the true basic fundamentals. The basics made me understand and also have a greater appreciation of our advanced techniques BUT also gave me the knowledge of when things go wrong as to the TRUE WHY!!! Same as wood, just a different trade/craft.

IF you learn the chisels first you APPRECIATE the routers!!!! I KNOW the basics...then I chose which tool I prefer.

Jay, MANY THANKS to your info on the true basics of WOOD, I have gained MUCH info and confirmed better techniques!!! I like it even more that you don't just say "...it's my opinion..."BUT show where to look it up ourselves... THANKS again!!!

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
........www.TSMFarms.com.......... John 3:16-21 ..........
Reveling God's awesome beauty while creating one of-a-kind flitches and heirlooms.
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post #10 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 01:29 PM
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Tim, the OP already tried the chisel and kerf method....

He didn't have much success doing it that way. I don't think he wants to take a class in basic hand tool use either.

He said;
I am making a platform bed out of 4" x 12" planks. I am making the mortises 2" x 12". The tutorial suggested making 1" grids to do it. I tried that and it is not working. I think the grids have to be much smaller to do a good job. My first one ended up a little deeper than 2". I think I can fix that by putting in some shims and gluing them. However, they are not smooth at all. I think it is too much to take out with a chisel to get a smooth and even surface. I was thinking of using a router to do it but it seems that router blades only go down 2" but I need to go down about 2 and 1/4". I just have a circular saw but no table saw. What do people suggest I do? Thanks

So, I gave him advice on how to use a router and a template. It's up to him how to do it at this point. And Yes, I also have great respect for Jay's skills and information. You just can't impart those skills to a newbie over the web. Sometimes the quick and dirty aka drive thru approach is all someone needs to get their project done.
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post #11 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 06:59 PM
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GBSK!!!...Power Tool or Hand...I know you can do this!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
...As a timber framer, Jay C's advice is pretty tool and skill specific. He already has the proper tools and skills after years of making these types of joints. This is fine for him, but not so good for a beginner starting out, but that's just my opinion.
Respectfully...anyone's skills, whether novice or professional, are ambient to what is usually considered ...good practice...in means, method and material application within a give craft...Nothing more or less...

As not only a professional working in a broad range of woodworking fields from Sawyer to Architectural Designer...I am also a teacher of these related skills sets. As such, the basics are where a student starts typically...

You really can't get more basic than chiseling out a half lapped housed joint...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
...If you don't own some scary sharp mortising chisels like the Sorby, you will struggle to make these mortises by hand...... He didn't have much success doing it that way. I don't think he wants to take a class in basic hand tool use either.
That simply is not accurate...

I did not, at any time, suggest he take a class...just follow the basic principles of woodworking for the task as he himself described it...and then...asked about.

All the tools necessary to cut this joint (by hand or otherwise) can be found at any decent hardware store and almost all Big Box Stores...or...many antique stores that sell old tools...

These are where not only my students, but my "DIYer" clients shop for what they need, and have no issue achieving their goals with ease for the most part, from furniture projects to timber frame additions and small homes...IF!!!...they follow the simple basics of approach to a given task.

In this case the...kerf pattern...was the issue not much more...Even an average sharp chisel will get the waste out, but sharper is better...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
...You just can't impart those skills to a newbie over the web...
Really, I can't

Again, that is neither accurate nor encouraging to anyone (especially a novice woodworker) to get such feedback...

Case in point to what a "newbie" can achieve I offer as a glowing example:


Here is a young man that has taught himself just about everything you see him doing in these videos.

Of keen interest to a "newbie" (like our poster in this conversation) is that Mr. Chickadee has only performed some of these tasks for only a few months before a video is made, with his other skills still less than a decade for the most part....and the one where he quarries stone and builds a tradtional foundation for the timber frame house he lives in (all by hand tools I would add) he is doing for...THE FIRST TIME!!!

He is not special or the acception (by his own admission) he works hard, listens well to tool and material and starts always...WITH THE BASICS!!!

Last edited by 35015; 12-14-2018 at 07:06 PM.
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post #12 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 07:30 PM
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Let's just wait and see what the OP wants to do....

I don't know what method he will choose and I don't really care.
I do know from 25 years of teaching and mentoring automotive clay sculptors that there is a different passion level and hand to eye coordination and aptitude for each person I encountered. Some were not worth my time, others caught on in great fashion. Hand work is not for everyone. Others really like the computer based robotic approach and became great at that method.

Surfacing an automobile car body is a fine art where curves and shapes blend from one to the other and straight lines virtually are non-existent.
It takes years to be really good at it. We had some of the best sculptors in the world at GM Design and we had some of the best looking cars ever produced..... just my opinion.
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post #13 of 13 Old 12-14-2018, 08:26 PM
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I wonder why nobody has mentioned 2 1/2 inch straight router bits? You will have to chisel out the corners. Don't try to do the entire 2 1/2 inches in one cut. :-)

Here is one, but you can find many others from many sources:
https://www.rockler.com/straight-rou...shank-2-fluted
Look for item #34928 on that page.
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