202010201 / Table Update / Middle Leaf: Cutting mortices for the tabletop

For the tabletop that I am building, I am creating 3 leaves with each leaf created from 3 boards.  I am going to use 5 floating tenons in 10 mortices to connect a board to the other.  To do this, I am going to use the Paul Sellers’ method for making mortises with a bench chisel (not a mortise chisel).  In my case, I am using a 1/2″ chisel to make 3/4″ wide mortices.  The Paul Sellers’ method is demonstrated in a great video on Youtube.  For the project, I am going to have to make over 60 mortices.  

Notice: I am am using a 1/2″ chisel to cut a 3/4″ mortice.  I know that this is not the proper way to do this, but it was what I have and it is working really well for me.  Don’t hate on me! 😀

Mortice Layout

This is the layout for the mortises for the tabletop.

This is the layout ffor the mortises
Mortise Layout
Board layout
Mortice layout on board

The Process

Gallery Showing the Chopping Process

Here is a series of images while I am chopping the mortises.  For this one leaf (3 boards for each leaf), I am cutting 10 mortices with 5 Mortices on each side and 5 loose tenons “floating” between the 2 boards/mortices.  In the end, there will be 3 leaves for the table.  I am starting on the removable middle leaf.  This will hide mistakes because they will only be seen infrequently if at all (holidays and big event when we need the extra room in the sunroom.  Even then, most of these events will have a table cloth over the table). So, I am starting on February 1st on the tabletop.  I am usually very busy with work and family things.  So, I suspect that this will take some time for me to complete:

    • I started the first leaf on 2/01 and completed it on 4/14.
    • I started the second leaf on 4/21 and finished it on  xx/xx.
    • I started the third leaf on x/xx and finished it on  xx/xx.


You may have noticed that the first leaf took a lot longer than the second leaf and the same for the third.  While chiseling 60 mortices,  I have modified my process and have improved my eye for accuracy.  Also, the better I get, the less slop there is from side-to-side.  The first mortices had some sway because the walls of the mortice ended up being too wide.  As I improved, that went away.  BTW, the slop was in the bottom of the mortices and didn’t impact the tabletop alignment’s accuracy since the pins pull the flat faces of the boards together.  With the top of the mortices accurate, it forces the top of the boards into alignment.

What do you think?