Yesterday I chopped 16 mortise holes again, together with the tenons to fill them. It was quite the full day for me, lots of support work in preparation, but I enjoyed the work as ever. But there was a time when I thought I never would get used to making mortise and tenons by hand. Mostly in my mod teens when i had so many to do. The older I get the more I enjoy it now. I think it’s because the work demands my skill and muscle, my dexterity in mind and body. When I say that I mean it’s a high demand input that requires tenacity and stamina. It’s my half marathon and my marathon. Keep looking forward as the numbers diminish but without the markers. Today I cut 16 more mortises. There are 32 mortise holes in my waste bin (not that I binned them but I am making a waste bin) and the wood I am using is white oak.
The rhythm begins quite quickly for me. I always work from left to right with the mortising. I have built muscle memory into the whole of my upper body. Knifewalls to the ends of the holes set the start and stop and my work begins with my newly sharpened knife and chisels. The holes are quarter inch. I use the 1/4″ bevel edged chisel for chopping, a 3/16″ for excavating waste, and a 1/8″ chisel alongside that for awkward spots where the waste sometimes gets wedged between the walls. Minimising opposition gives me added peace as I work. It took 2 hours to layout the 16 mortise holes today. Yesterday I chopped 8 of the 16 mortise holes an inch long, and an inch deep in 17minutes and 1 second. It might have taken me 20 minutes for one at one time. The tenons took twice as long and each tenon will fit interchangeably in any mortise exactly to width with a friction fit except one which was a little off.