Pier 9 Guide: Mounting the Mortise Attachment

Introduction: Pier 9 Guide: Mounting the Mortise Attachment

This Instructable is for Workshop Users at Pier 9.

Requirements for using this equipment:

  • Read through this Instructable
  • Take General Workshop Safety
  • Take Intro to Wood
  • Clean up after yourself

Someone somewhere once said something about a round peg and square hole...well, BOOM! Round peg meet square hole.

This beauty is known as a mortising chisel and this type is specifically designed to be used with a drill press. In this instructable I'm going to show you how to set it up so that you can get started down a glorious path of making square holes using a round peg (drill bit).

Disclaimer: If you're one of those ol' wood dogs who scoffs at the use of machines in the act of making, well I've got news for you...they're all machines. From the old hand chisel to the new chisel attachment - they were all made to make the life of the crafts person easier. So if you're one of those naysayers just go here and let the interested parties, party.

What is a Mortise?

Essentially a mortise is a square or rectilinear shaped opening created in your choice of material, typically wood. The mortise and tenon together is an introductory joint used throughout furniture making history. You most likely see and sit on objects that incorporate this joint often, and knowing how to set up a machine to make one is a first step in exploring this technique!

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Step 1: Tools of the Trade

The tools you'll need to complete this operation are found mostly within a mortising chisel "kit". Here at the Pier ours is a little different in that I made a special collar to fit our specific (special) drill press. The kits usually come with an array of collars that work with most readily available drill presses.

The 5 essential parts are:

  • Dead blow or Mallet
  • Mortise Chisel set
  • Chuck with taper
  • Mortise Cage
  • Collar

Once you have the 5 items available you're ready to assemble.

First you need to place the collar in the cage. This is done by simply sliding the Aluminum collar into the largest diameter section of the cage. Remember to make sure that the collar is pushed all the way in so that it sits flush around the entire circumference of the cage.

Step 2: Prepping the Machine

At this juncture you're ready to start assembling the parts on the press.

The first step in doing this is removing the normal chuck that we keep on the press. The reason you need to remove this is because the chuck diameter is much larger than the cage. We have a chuck the we keep with the kit and the bigger needs to be swapped for the smaller!

To properly prep the machine just follow the steps below:

  • First you need to pull out the "ejector" nob.
    • (Our drill press is fancy. We have an ejector knob. Most don't...just sayin').
  • Once you've pulled out the knob as far as it can go you want to grab the chuck to ensure it doesn't accidentally fall out.
  • While still holding the chuck, take a hold of the quill feed handle and pull down slightly.
  • Once you've got a hold of the chuck and have pulled the handle down, lift up with moderate force on the handle. This hits the top of the taper and ejects it from the quill on the press.

This step can seem a little confusing but it's really quite simple. Just remember that you're in control of the handle and it's not going to do anything if you don't make it.

Step 3: Attaching the Cage

Once you've removed the old chuck from the press it's time to start assembling the mortising kit.

The first thing you need to do is insert the new, smaller chuck.

  • First make sure that you've re-engaged the ejector knob.
  • Once the ejector knob is back to the original engaged position slide the chuck and taper up the quill shaft. This is not a forceful task. Simply slide the taper up and rotate until you feel it engage a little more. Doing this properly will allow the chuck to actually stay in place under its own taper. If it disengages as soon as you let go, you need to repeat this step.
  • Once the taper and chuck are in the quill shaft give it a hefty tap with a dead blow or mallet. Once this step is complete you should be able to work with the chuck without it moving.

Attaching the Cage

  • After attaching the new chuck simply slide on the the cage and tighten the knob in the upper right.

When completing this step make sure to take note of how high on the quill shaft you're going. Going too high will cause the chuck to not engage the bit.

Step 4: Attaching Your Bit

We're getting close!

The last step to setting up the machine is pretty simple.

  • First you want to make sure that you have the two parts of the Chisel. This includes the square mortising chisel and the drill bit.
    • This drill bit is specifically made to work with the accompanying chisel. Mixing and matching is NOT allowed. Doing so will damage the whole system.
  • You need to engage the square chisel first. To do this, simply grab the set by the chisel and place it in the lower most section of the cage.
  • After you've placed the entire rounded shaft of the square chisel into the cage tighten the locking knob on the front.
  • Once you've attached the chisel you can then attach the drill bit that is loose.
  • This operation is exactly the same as attaching a regular drill bit. The only exception is that you need to make sure that drill bit is appropriately spaced at the bottom of the chisel. An appropriately spaced bit to chisel ratio can be seen in image four.
  • Once you've tightened the chuck around the drill bit you're ready to let er' rip.

Step 5: Ready to Cut

Once the cage and chisel set are properly secured you need to then adjust the cutting speed of the drill press accordingly.

It's a good idea to use similar settings as a Forstner bit. The one big difference in operating this particular cutter is that the use of pecking is crucial as the tight fit between the chisel and the drill bit allows for over heating if too much steady pressure is applied. Remember you're not only boring out a hole you're chiseling away the edges too, so an appropriate amount of force is still needed.

  • Remember - Slow is smooth and smooth is fast!

To adjust the drill press first consort the handy chart that Mei, made. Once you've selected your desired speed, adjust the press accordingly. After you've selected your speed, remember to properly secure your material, and then cut a square hole using a mostly round peg.

Step 6: Clean Up and Reassemble

Ok, so now you're ready to go down the meandering mortise path. But, before you can, you need to clean up after your self and reattach the chuck and taper you so graciously disassembled earlier. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask any shop staff member for assistance.

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