Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Cutting Mortises and Chopping Legs(Wooden Ones)

Preparing to cut mortises for our legs on this big mortising machine. Nothing real complicated (that's usually how cheating works).

After all that horribly difficult work, I cleaned up the mortiser's work with a Lie-Nielsen 1/2" chisel.

Now that those mortises are done, I moved on to chop down all the rails to width.

The rails are all the correct width now, but they still need some length adjustment, specifically so that they are shorter.

Had to get rid of some nasty snipe the planer left behind. Not too shabby.

All rails cut to length.

Now we need to plane the boards so they are smooth and, of course, square.

I had a little problem with this board. As you may be able to see in the picture, I drew with my pencil where the board was not square and needed planing, back right corner and the front left corner.

To fix this problem, I took my plane and pinched the front, using my index finger on the bottom as a fence and took a shaving from the back right edge started the cut from the middle of the board and let the plane take a shaving about 1/4" in and slowly moved towards the center using the finger fence until I had slowly planed about 3/4" in.

I repeated this process on the back left corner stopping my cut half way down the board, similar to before. Finally, I took a full pass and sure enough, the board was darn near perfect square. Not bad, for an apprentice.


  1. So smart to run the board through the planer and then cut it to length. Something that I learned the hard way.

    Looking forward to your next post.

  2. I'm glad to hear somebody is listening.

    Thanks Jeff!

  3. Hey Hunna,

    I'm enjoying your posts so far, the project is coming along nicely I think.

    Do you build exactly according to plans or do you have some modifications or own design elements in mind?

    I recently put in an order for the Benchcrafted Vice Combo and the Split Top Roubo Plans so I will be embarking on the same adventure in the nearby future.

    I'm planning on trying to get a solid slab for the top...we'll see if I succeed.

    Keep up the good stuff.

  4. Hey Andre,

    I'm following the plans almost completely with just a few minor changes because, similar to how you are looking for a solid slab of wood, I am using a couple solid slabs of ash that happen to only be 6' long. So my bench will have a few changes in the base, but nothing major.

    But using a solid piece for the bench top is the way to go. If you can get one, it will save you loads of time and work.

  5. Hey Hunna -

    Been a busy week; I just saw this post. Great work on the bench, and I agree with your point about using solid slabs. Cuts the time in half.

    Very nice freehand plane work. A great skill to have, and one that it takes a lot of us a long time to develop. Your instincts (and teachers) are rock solid, and paying off already.


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