How to Mill Lumber and Cut Through-Mortises
In this project video on making a step stool, learn how to cut clean through-mortises using power and hand tools.
Squaring Up Rough Lumber
Unless your purchasing pre-surfaced boards, every woodworking project begins with milling process at the jointer and planer. After you’ve run your stock through these two machines, be sure to set your wood aside for about a week before bringing them down to final thickness. The milling process actually releases a great deal of built-up tension in the wood, and during this acclimation time, your boards might twist ever-so-slightly. Allowing them to sit before final milling will allow you to correct any imperfections that may have arisen during the course of that week, leaving you with super-straight boards that will look dynamite once your project is complete.
Wait! I Don’t Own a Planer or Jointer
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go out and invest $1,000 on a planer and jointer to produce this project. Any hardwood dealer worth their salt will be more than happy to surface the boards you purchase from them for a small fee.
With your stock milled to final thickness, you’re ready to begin cutting the decorative through-mortises. Using a marking gauge, layout the mortise locations and head to the drill press. You can hog out most of the waste using a Forstner bit. Just be sure to use an auxiliary table on the drill press to prevent tearout and avoid marring the drill press table. With your board referenced against a fence clamped to the drill press table, you can drill out the mortises with a series of passes–left to right.
Finally, clean up the mortises by hand using well-sharpened chisels.
Video by: Gina Eide; Editing by: Michael Dobsevage