Cutting a mortise joint with a drill press and a forstner bit

The drill press does not leave a perfect mortise like you could get off a router, hollow chisel mortiser or a horizontal mortiser, but it does accurately evacuate the waste for the mortise. This saves a lot of up-front time and is easier to clean up with chisels afterward.

This video was produced for its free video library by The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. The Center is a nonprofit, international woodworking school dedicated to providing the best possible education in wood craftsmanship and design.

How to Make Mortises with the Aid of a Drill Press with Tim Rousseau

In this video, Tim Rousseau, an instructor at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, demonstrates various methods of cutting through mortises, conditional to the application and tools at hand. Besides its brawn and visual simplicity as a joint, through mortises can also add decorative elements.

In this video, Tim Rousseau, an instructor at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, demonstrates how to utilize a drill press to aid in hand cutting a mortise. Regardless of what tools are used to cut a mortise, all mortises will need to begin by having definitive cheek lines marked by a mortise gauge.

A handy trick is to use the chisel to set the width of the pins on the mortise gauge and that becomes the measurement for laying out the cheeks of the mortises on the stock. Then use the stock that will become the tenon to lay out the height and placement of where the tenon will be drilled out. After the mortise is defined by crisp scoring, decide the depth.

When drilling out the mortise on the drill press, either use a forstner bit or a brad point bit, both have their advantages. Set up accurately by drawing a center line in the mortise, set depth of the bit, and use a squared fence.

The last step is to pare the remainder out of the mortise with sharp chisels while the stock is clamped squarely on the bench.

Check out the video above for a step by step walk through of how we make mortises with the aid of a drill press at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship.

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