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  • OT: woodworking question

    I am trying to build some stepstools for my granddaughter. The plans call for use of oak stair treads, 1-1/8 in thick. There is to be a cut out for a handhold in the top step, and I'm having trouble with that.

    I drilled out the ends of the slot with a Forstner bit without problem. But I'm not getting the slot cut successfully. I tried a router with spiral bit, but the jig I used guiding the router didn't hold, the bit jerked, and ruined the work piece. I bought a new piece but decided to practice on the old one to see what worked. I tried making a series of drill holes with the Forstner, and did get them to line up well, but have not had any luck chiseling out the ridges in between the holes. I tried joining them up with a jigsaw and a straight guide, but the sides of the cut were not truly vertical, and the cut missed the far hole by a fraction. I tried using the router on the ridges that the Forstner bit left between holes, and had the same problem with the jig not guiding well.

    So what would you suggest.? I thought about not putting the handholds in, but the ends of the slots are already drilled out.

  • #2
    Sharpen the chisel. No kidding. You should have no trouble mortising a slot with an adequately sharp chisel, and even less trouble if you removed some material with a drill. Radius the edges of the opening with a rasp, or round over with router bit. Alternatively use a router to cut the opening with light passes (don't hog it out with one cut).
    "Our Nation’s interests are best served by fostering a peaceful global system comprised
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    • #3
      I assume that you don't have a router table with a fence. That would be an easy solution and I've made nice slots that way..

      From your description, it sounds like you might be using an edge guide on your router. Try this - guide from the other edge of the board to cut the wall on the far side of the slot. That way if something jerks, the guide should prevent it from going further into the work. A jerk will take it into the center of the hand-hold area where it won't make any difference.

      Also pay attention to router bit rotation, and avoid climbing cuts that WILL jerk your router. Cut with the bit rotation going against the direction of cut. What you don't want is the router bit to act like a drive wheel in the direction of your cut.
      Bill Schneider
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      • #4
        Buy some particle board or mdf treads to practice on, cheaper.

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        • #5
          Coping saw and file? Sometimes slow is best...

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          • #6

            If you want to buy something...

            How to Do Mortising on a Drill Press: DIY Mortising Guide

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            • #7
              You can get edge guides for most routers at Rockler or Woodcraft. Use the edge guide to cut a straight path between the holes on either end of the slot.

              Craftsman used to sell a nice hole cutting jig that also included an edge guide, but it doesn't appear to be available anymore. It's Craftsman part #25179. I use the hole cutting jig fairly often--it works great.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by JRT View Post
                You should have no trouble mortising a slot with an adequately sharp chisel, and even less trouble if you removed some material with a drill.
                 
                "Our Nation’s interests are best served by fostering a peaceful global system comprised
                of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance."
                - from the October 2007 U.S. Naval capstone doctrine
                A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower
                (a lofty notion since removed in the March 2015 revision)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have had good luck drilling out the ends like you have done...cutting the rest out with the jig/saber saw..cutting just shy or the line and then using a drum sander on the drill press to get the sides square and straight.

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                  • #10
                    All seem like good suggestions, I will have to look into it more carefully.
                    I did try with the router, but may have had a climb cut on the first try that ruined the work piece. I did try to make very shallow cuts, no more than a 1/4" with an upcut spiral, but still couldn't control it adequately. Maybe that is too much in a pass. I had a 1/2" spiral in the tool, maybe a smaller diameter would be more controllable?
                    I used brand new chisels that were plenty sharp, I think the problem is me, not the tools. Seems like this should have worked, but it caused the good edge to split in one place.
                    The mortising bit looks very intriguing, I will consider that further.

                    Thanks for all of the suggestions.

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                    • #11
                      JRT--great video, thanks for that!

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                      • #12
                        A 1/4" spiral would be much more controllable in my mind.

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                        • #13
                          In looking into mortising chisels and bits I came across a handheld chisel that fits into a wooden handle at Rockler. Since I don't have a machine, this would be an alternative that's quite a bit cheaper. Do you think this would be reasonable or problematic?

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                          • #14
                            Link?

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                            • #15
                              My technique is 1/4 inch upcut spiral bit in plunge router with a bushing and a template clamped to the workpiece. The bushing rides in a 1/2 inch baltic birch template I made with forstner bits and the table saw. On the table saw I fixed the template then plunged the blade by tuning the blade height screw. This gave me a nice straight cut connecting the holes.

                              Back when PE had the buyout oval terminal cups I made a lot of oval cut outs with that template.
                              John H

                              Synergy Horn, SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower

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