Since my last post, I’ve done some preparations for traveling, traveling, and recovering from traveling, so I haven’t had much shop time. Last night I had an hour or two. I had been considering building my double-screw Moxon vise for the Instructables woodworking contest. Nice prizes! But I figured I’d better stay focused and try to make more progress on the bench.

Next step: mortising the legs for the short stretchers. In my last post I suggested that it’d be “easy” to just drill pilot holes at the midpoint of each wall of the mortise and then insert a hacksaw blade in the hole, and to cut from the hole towards each corner of the mortise. Well, that wouldn’t work. The hacksaw blade is just not agressive nor accurate enough to do the trick. Back to Plan B – which is Plan A for most of you: drill holes (overlapping, if possible) and then clean out the waste with a chisel.

Easier said than done.

A few things make this a tough task. First and most importantly, I don’t have the right-sized bit. Ideally, the hole will extend from one wall to the other, right? Well I have two expansive bits: one that extends to 1 1/2″ and the other which starts at 1 3/4″. Guess what width my mortise is? Yup – in between those two. So what I’ve had to do is to overextend my smaller bit, which mostly works, but after each hole I have to readjust the bit which has slipped because the screw can’t tighten the bit quite enough.

Another difficulty is boring with a large bit through 4″ of hardwood with a bit brace. Quite the workout! So last night I didn’t make too much progress. I figured out what bit to use and how far to extend it. And I got started on one side of one leg (see above). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get very far in the center hole before the bit refused to stay in the pilot hole any longer. Next – most likely today or this evening – I’ll flip the leg over and finish the mortise – hoping my marks are lined up!