Mortise guides with a bit extra

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    Colin Scowen

    I recently built myself three of the mortising guides that Paul uses sometimes, because I wanted to make a frame and panel door (well). To help me set the groove to match the guide, I built the guides with a bit extra on top. I used three different thicknesses of plywood, but deliberately didn’t flush them to the top of the main piece. This allows me to also use the plywood to set the fence on my plough plane, so that the ploughed groove in the frame matched the mortise I would chop and pare.
    Just have to remember to set the fence with the guide on the blade, otherwise it ends up a half mil or so out of line.
    Although rather unnecessary, I can also use the guides to check the depth of the router plane being used to clean the tenons on the face side of the rails and stile.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Brilliant Colin!

    David Charlesworth recommends in one of his videos the use of a loose tenon for checking while mortising. Your ingenious addition will be added.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Matt Sims

    Brilliant, and so simple!



    I think that in an English wood work setting it’s called a ‘Mullet’.

    A piece of wood designed to check the fit of another, that is, not the naff 1970s haircut.

    For example, it can be a mortise of a certain size cut in some scrap to check the rough dimension of a series of tenons as you cut them, or conversely a piece of scrap dimensioned as a tenon to check the size and aspect of a particular mortise. Along with many other words, the wood-working term comes, I think, from the French…. which in turn was probably purloined elsewhere.

    In the days of hand-made piece-work joinery where the joiner was paid by the dozen or gross, items that had a large number of joints of the same size (for example an order for a couple of hundred doors or chests all the same size) the M&T joints would all be cut and sized alike and checked on a Mullet. For example, 200 doors would have upward of 600- to 800 M&Ts in total – they would never all be individually sized and fitted.

    I have a boxfull of old Mullets of all shapes and sizes behind the bench that I’ve had for years. They usually transition into firewood after a decade or two………….

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