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The Chair – Slotting the Stretchers (Part 1 – How would you do this?)

The Chair is nearly at a point where I can begin to think of a glue up. Well, that's really getting a little ahead of myself. What I mean to say is that the stretchers are nearly done. Basically, there is one significant (slots for the Danish Cord seat) and one minor task (rounding the sides) to complete, and then it is ready.

This is where we are ...

All the coped joints have been fine tuned ..

Before the side edges are rounded, a slot (i.e. through mortice) needs to be created in each of the stretchers for the Danish Cord seat. The through mortice runs nearly the full length of the stretcher, beginning and ending 30mm (1 1/4") from the ends. It will be 3mm (1/8") wide and through the middle of each stretcher.

This is what it will look like ...

Now here is where I could do with your thoughts: how would you create this through mortice with hand tools? Power tool of choice would be a router. That would be an easy process.

My first thought was to saw it out with a coping saw and then clean up the edges with a rasp and file. I practiced on a scrap and decided that this would require too much cleaning up. The saw blade tended to wander with the grain, and the through mortice was too narrow to saw two parallel kerfs.

The other method is to use a mortice chisel. Chisel half-way from each side of the stretcher.

Keep in mind that the front and rear stretchers are compound curves. The side stretchers are straight.

It should be straight forward: score the sides, and chop out the waste. Well, scoring the sides is not straight forward for the compound curves. To begin, a cutting gauge needs to have the appropriate fence to follow a curve. OK, so I can do that.

I practiced on scrap ...

In this wood a single blade cutting gauge was not reliable. Even with initial light passes, the blade wandered with the grain enough that the mortice was in danger of wandering off course or widening. A mortice gauge would be better, but I did not feel like making one with the correct fence specifically for this project.

It occurred to me I could use the Veritas inlay cutter for the Veritas router plane. This has a fence that will follow a curve.

This has twin blades to score a parallel line for inlay ...

This is the line created (lower example) ..

Chopping out the waste with a 1/8" mortice chisel was OK ....

.... however, I can see that this will take time to do.

Anyone have another idea?

Regards from Perth


January 2014