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Spare wear and tear on your mortiser

While building a Morris-style chair and ottoman recently, I noticed that my benchtop mortiser required a great deal of force when making its first cut. To avoid overtaxing the machine and chisel, I predrilled the first hole with a drill bit smaller than the mortise, as shown below. Removing just this little bit of material made cutting the first and succeeding cuts effortless, and kept me from overheating the chisel and bit.

—Joseph Amara, Melrose, Mass.

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