Mortising the Legs


The chair making journey continues as I learn an interesting system for cutting mortises into the side of the curved back legs. Here you can see the legs being set up in a jig for cutting the mortises for the back seat rail. The large block in the center helps to position the legs so that the mortises are perfectly symmetrical.


This Davis & Wells boring machine converted into a slot mortiser is just like the one I have in my studio back home.


The mortises are cut one at a time, resetting the legs on the jig for each pair of mortises.


The rest are simpler, just requiring an accurate placement of the leg on the mortiser table, and then cut, cut, cut. Same goes for the front legs. Eighteen mortises later, and I'm ready to move on tomorrow to shaping the back legs and preparing the back rails and stretcher. All-in-all, a very good day.

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But that's not all! I returned from the machine room and found this beautiful wooden plane sitting on my bench. Wow, check it out! This is the plane that Robert Van Norman, the resident craftsman and teacher, made while demonstrating plane making to the Artisan Program class this week. It's made of tulip wood. Also, it has a cross pin made of bocote which was a gift to Robert from his teacher, James Krenov. With a lineage like that, it will certainly be one of my prized posessions. I gave it a try at the end of the day and it makes some awesome shavings. A very sweet hand plane. You probably noticed that he delivered it by setting it on top of my Lie-Nielsen low angle smoothing plane; hint, hint. I've taken to using metal planes more often lately, especially when the humidity back home is going up and down, and up and down. It's sometimes difficult to keep the wooden plane bodies flat. I have a feeling though, that this plane made of tulip wood will do just fine. I can't wait to put it to good use.


What a sweet hand plane and generous gift from my teacher. Thanks Robert!!!

Hej då, and happy shavings!



Craig Johnson is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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