DIY Network

How to Cut Mortises With a Mortiser

Making a mortise -- sometimes cut with a drill bit and finished with a chisel -- can be tough. With a mortiser the process is much simpler.

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cutting mortises with a mortiser
  • Time

    1 hour

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Set up the Mortiser

To set up the mortiser, insert the hollow chisel into the collet of the mortiser, making sure it is perfectly parallel to the fence (Image 1). Insert the bit into the chisel and lock it into the chuck. Adjust the depth gauge on the mortiser to the desired depth of the mortise. Clamp a scrap of wood to the rip fence behind the blade (Image 2). The wood will act as a spacer.

Step 2: Cut a Square Hole

Place the work piece on top of the spacer. Lower the bit and the chisel onto the work piece at the spot where you want the mortise (Image 1). Repeat this process several times to create a square hole. Slide the work piece down, and keep cutting until you have cut the entire length of the mortise (Image 2).

Step 3: Make the Tenon and Glue it Into the Mortise

To make the tenon, adjust the table-saw blade to a height of 1/4". Adjust the table-saw fence so the tenon will be as long as the mortise is deep. Make several passes through the saw to cut the shoulders of the tenon. Glue the tenon into the mortise and clamp them together. Allow the glue to dry.

make the tenon