Shop reorg #2: Mortising an 8' 4x4

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Blog entry by GeBeWubya posted 01-10-2013 02:29 AM 5186 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: A new toolbench Part 2 of Shop reorg series Part 3: The toolbench fills and the loft rises »

Last weekend, my good friend John came to town to help me with the Lumber Loft.

While I was cutting the crowns for the posts, he built all the feet and cut the half laps on all the rails and stiles. Then came the task that neither of us knew exactly how to do—cutting a diagonal through mortise in an 8’ 4×4 with a bench drill press. With the mortising attachment on the drill press, the quill has only 1 1/2” of travel, so cutting through the post requires multiple cycles of drill – raise table – realign to drill again. We set the DP on an assembly table with the foot of the post hanging out the door onto the sloped driveway, put a bottle jack under the foot of the post, and managed 1/2 of one of 18 half inch mortises it would take to outline the 1 1/2” x 4” mortise in the post. At that point, the task looked hopeless. John went on home and I pondered the problem a while. I figured that if the post were kept horizontal, I could counterweight the short end to keep it balanced on the drill press table. Then I could just slide the post around on the table for each cut, and raise the table. It worked (sort of) and I got the mortise cut today. Here’s what the drill press setup looked like.

After that, the tenon and bridle joint on the truss were child’s play (if you let your children play with saws, rasps, and chisels).

I fitted the tenon to the mortise, fitted the bridle joint to a 2×4, assembled the truss to the post, crossed my fingers, and laid a 1×3 between the crown and the bridle. Believe it or not, they lined up!

Next I need to reinforce the end pins on the 2×4 rail and stile end half-laps, draw pin the truss joints, and wait for John to come back to town to help assemble the beast.

-- (- |: \,/

3 comments so far

View macatlin1's profile


78 posts in 3950 days

#1 posted 01-10-2013 12:59 PM

Going to look great! Typical engineer to turn a lumber into a work of art with all the miters and tenons. I’ll be following to see how it turns out.

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3812 days

#2 posted 01-10-2013 02:39 PM

Nice how-to. Wow.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View ChrisMc45's profile


117 posts in 3867 days

#3 posted 06-29-2020 01:21 AM

well of COURSE I let the kids play with rasps! Chisels only after they can sharpen them, to prove they understand how valuable they are (time and effort both with and without.). Nice setup, using your “way outside the box” mind and getting it done

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