Mortise Chisel Depth Control


I’m a big fan of hand-chopped mortises.  There’s something about the seemingly-contradictory requirements of power and finesse that appeals to me.  The problem with them is that, unlike drill presses, there is no depth stop to keep you from happily chopping your way right out the other side of the board.

Depth Mark 1

The  most common way suggested to prevent this  is to wrap a piece of tape at the appropriate point on the chisel blade, and stop when you reach it.  The problem with this method is that you rock the chisel to lever chunks out of the mortise as you work your way deeper.  Invariably, my tape ends up looking like the example above.

Depth Mark 2

I have found a better solution in the Sharpie permanent marker, which isn’t as permanent as you might think.  A simple line on the chisel blade, and you’re set to go with a mark that won’t wiggle and bunch out of place.  When you’re through, a wipe with denatured alcohol leaves you with a pristine chisel blade again.

So much for permanent.

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One response to “Mortise Chisel Depth Control

  1. I need to get a set of mortising chisels. I’m more apt to get some carving chisels first. The more I get into woodworking the more I enjoy the finesse of handwork. I can get lost for hours paring a bevel on something. I think that my next purchase will be another, but better grade, 1 1/2″ or better chisel. I have a Marples that is an earlier make, but I’d love a better made one.

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