Wood Working: Building a crib, part 3

Well, I worked on the changing table for a short while this evening, having a nice pile of wood to start with:
Hey look: It's a baby crib kit.
I spent about 8 hours milling all the rough-sawn lumber to rough dimensions. Some of it I’ve taken down to final dimensions. I’m trying to let everything adjust as much as possible, because I may have to let it sit for a while at various points in the project, and it really stinks to mill something nice and straight just to have it bow and warp a few days later.

So, I decided to continue cutting mortices in the legs as I was doing last night. Back when I was making one of my workbenches I picked up this Delta hollow chisel mortising machine, and it works pretty well.

There’s a auger-style bit inside of a hollow square chisel – the bit removes most of the wood, and the chisel cleans up the corners and drives the waste into the bit. It’s one of those things, like helicopters, that just seems like it’s got to break. It squeaks a bit, and smokes when the wood binds too much, but that’s just how mortising machines work. And it makes nice square holes a lot faster and easier than “chopping” them by hand with a regular hand chisel.

So I’m plugging along, and everything’s fine, when I hear a slight “Thunk!”, and then realize the chisel just got a LOT harder to push through the wood. Big mystery:

Aw man! It took a while to dig the broken bit out of the partial mortise, and I’m sure it will be a pain to find a replacement bit locally. The good news is that I’ve read that the stock bits that come with the mortiser aren’t very good, and replacements are much better. Not much for good news though ;-(

The clearance between the bit and the chisel is pretty important, and I’m thinking that the clearance I had wasn’t quite right. I’m not sure if it was too much or too little, though. On a 1/4″ bit, there’s no space to slip a feeler gauge in there to find out, so it’s not real easy to adjust.

Hopefully I can get a replacement this weekend.

The hardware kit for the crib still hasn’t appeared, but the plans have. I originally ordered a downloadable set from PlansNow for $10. They turned out to just be a copy of the instructions that came with the real plans, and the real plans came with actual large-sheets-of-paper-with-scale-drawings plans for $15. All I can say is that I won’t order from PlansNow again unless I know they’re not a subset of the real thing. Nothing beats scale drawings, especially when you’re trying to copy elements off the piece to make a matching, but different piece like my changing table.

So much for now…

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