Tuesday, January 9

Tuesday - Mortising

As promised, today we continued to make the casework framing. We start with completing the tenons by cutting the haunches on the bandsaw. You may note that one is deeper than the other. The haunch that will be toward the end of the stile is cut deeper to leave more wood at the corner of the joint and reduce the chance that the end of the stile will split out during assembly. A few licks with a piece of sand paper clean off the fuzzy bits left by the saw blade and yields a nice clean tenon.

Then we return to the marking gauge, but today we flip it over and use the other side which has a pair of adjustable pins. By carefully setting the distance between these pins and the gap between the inner pin and the face of the tool, we can lay out the mortise sides in one pass.

The ends of the mortise are taken from the tenons that will go into them. Theoretically, the tenons are all the same, so any one should fit into any of the mortises if I lay them out and cut them all alike. But real life doesn’t pay much attention to theory, so I find it less troublesome to set up these cuts by laying the tenon across the edge of the stile. In most cases they do come out to be interchangeable, but once in a while one will be just a tad wider, requiring some extra work with a chisel.

Cutting the mortises is done with a special attachment on our drill press that drills square holes; I make one hole at each end of the mortise, then connect the two. A few moments of clean-out work with a chisel and we have a nice clean mortise. Then we test fit the tenon into it, adjust if necessary and move onto the next. A properly fitted mortise & tenon joint will have a snug fit; not so tight it must be hammered together, but not so loose it just drops in. Too tight and it will be difficult to assemble once glue is in place, too loose and the glue will not bond the wood and the joint will fail. I start with the end panels because they’re smallest and least complicated.

The back panel and doors take more room to work with, so are easier to do once the end panels parts are assembled and set aside elsewhere. The back panel and doors have center stiles that need to be mortised in then assembled in the proper order. When the day is done, we have all the framework needed to build the cabinet... sort of.

The parts are all here now, but there are grooves and dadoes that will be needed where the parts join together. And of course we will need to make the panels that fill in the middles of these frames. We’ll get started on those tomorrow.


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