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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can never seem to make it look good. I recently installed a new door and my hinge mortises look like 100% grade A crap. Likewise, the mortise for the door bolt assembly is jacked up as well. I really tried to be careful but it just doesn't look good. Anyone have tips besides using a router?
 

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Remodeling Contractor
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Buy a cheap metal template that is available to mark out these items. Score along the line made by the template with a sharp razor knife. Now chisel out to the depth your need. You need to practice until you can control the chisel with enough skill to make a perfect mortise. Just go slow and chisel a little at a time. Router is the only way to go! Buy one.
 

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I have a router and if you are doing lots of doors it is worth the investment. But if you only do a few now and then I find a wood chisel does a fine job and odd sizes and shape are never a problem. Sometimes it just not worth setting up the router for just one door. Make sure you are using a good sharp wood chisel? A few assorted sizes can be help. I most often use a 3/4 inch and 1/4 inch occasionally. I have a set of 5 but seldom use the others. Please don't take offense but are you using the chisel correctly. Most inexperienced users tend to place the bevel up which causes it to "dig" into the wood instead of cutting. Try it both ways on a scrap of soft wood and you will understand very quickly what I am trying to describe. A mallet should be used sparingly if ever, I usually set the depth of the cut with a knife as described in the post above or when removing removing material on a large rough cut maybe a few taps with the mallet.



After you set the depth hold the tool with both hands, one on the handle and the other, thumb on top about an inch from the tip to control the cut while push with you other hand. I am right handed so I always push with my right hand and control the cut with my left. You will find even on most hard wood you will be able to make a controlled cut. Just take your at a time and use a very sharp chisel.

I use pieces of scrap hose or tubing to protect my chisels after sharpening. After all these years I still have a hard time sharpening my wood chisels. If anyone has a tip to sharpen these tools accurately please share.

Rege
 

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A sharp chisel is critical and makes the job easier. I'm not talking about a brand new out of the box chisel...Those are not sharp. Chisels are sold as what may appear to be sharp but all require proper honing for the best performance (on a waterstone, oilstone, or very very fine grit sandpaper mounted to a piece of glass with spray adhesive...A $20 sharpening jig is worth its weight in gold). Cheap chisels will not hold an edge, so it is wise to spend a little extra on a couple good chisels instead of the junk most hardware stores sell.

A decent quality chisel that has been properly sharpened will require very little use of a mallet to make the chisel work...Light taps will do it, and sometimes just hand pressure is enough to clean out and deepen the mortise.
 

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If anyone has a tip to sharpen these tools accurately please share.

Rege
Do a google search for the "scary sharp" method. It involves sticking wet/dry sandpaper of various grits to a piece of 1/4" or thicker glass. I use a 12"x24" slab of granite for sharpening chisels and flattening plane irons because nothing's flatter. Going from 400 grit through every grit through 2000 (or finer) grit will leave a mirror finish on the bevel and will absolutely be surgical sharp. Do the back of the chisel until perfectly flat, then do the bevel.

You must use a honing guide to get the angle perfect. Veritas makes a very nice one that is reasonably inexpensive.

This method is a waste of time on cheap chisels (Buck Bros, Stanley, etc). The steel isn't good enough and the sharp edge will roll over. Better chisels like Marples or Crown aren't excessively priced but will hold an edge much better.

The scary sharp method yields surgically sharp tools. Once you do woodwork with properly sharpened hand tools you'll never understand how you managed without them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
well there ya go

Nobody every showed me how to use a chisel and I normally place the beveled side up. That's probably been my problem the whole time. Thanks for the tip! Can't wait to get home and try it out. Don't I feel stupid!
 

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remodeling pro
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Buy a cheap metal template that is available to mark out these items. Score along the line made by the template with a sharp razor knife. Now chisel out to the depth your need. You need to practice until you can control the chisel with enough skill to make a perfect mortise. Just go slow and chisel a little at a time. Router is the only way to go! Buy one.
As a pro, I use templates and routers for everything, but that is an investment most HO do not want, especially if it is just for a door or two.
A nice sharp pencil will get you a plenty accurate enough mark out. The most important thing is a decent, SHARP, chisel; a new mid price range one by Stanley, Buck Bros, Craftsman, etc will do fine and only be in the $12 to $15 price range. As stated above, go slowly and remove wood in thin layers, using very light hammer taps; you are not driving a nail.
 

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To each his own but I am much faster and find it easier to tap the hammer using the broad side of the hammer head. That way you don't have to focus so much on making contact w/ the chisel handle and spend more time on the sharp end removing wood.:thumbsup:
 

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I would add my two cents worth, but the most important information has already been stated... a good, sharp chisel is important, as well as scribing the cut-out with a razor knife; it gives the chisel a place to stop. When replacing doors to existing casing, I like to take off the existing door, line it up with the new door, cut it to length if neccessary, then use a speed square to mark the hinge and knob locations from the old door to the new door.
As to sharpening my old cheap chisels, I use a rather less than perfect method; I hold the chisel against my grinder and sharpen the tool, but I would NOT recommend this for someone not experienced in reconditioning a tool. You can over heat the metal (thus weakening it) or change the angle of the cut.
 
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