Master the Mortiser
Simple tips for sharpening, setup, and cutting sequence
Synopsis: They can cut mortises of almost any length quickly and accurately, but hollow-chisel mortisers are among the most finicky of power tools. When not properly set up and used, this is a machine that can plague you with jammed chips, overheated bit and chisel tips, burnt workpieces, and broken parts. But once you learn the right way to set up your mortiser, you’ll find this aspect of joinery turns effortless. Fine Woodworking contributing editor Roland Johnson shares his tips, starting with the proper way to sharpen and install the chisel and bit, and ending with advice on cutting expert mortises.
A mortiser, also called a hollow-chisel mortiser or mortising machine, cuts mortises remarkably quickly and accurately. Indeed, this machine can cut a typical leg-to-apron mortise in well under a minute. Benchtop models are most common, although larger, freestanding machines also are available.
On the downside, mortisers define the…