How to Mortise Hinges With a Chisel
Mastered in a Minute: All it takes is a sharp chisel, a steady hand, and a mallet.
Although a router and jig can be used, mortising hinges with a chisel is a solid, time-tested method.
The mortise depth is equal to the thickness of the hinge leaf, so, as a guide, put a piece of tape on the chisel at the thickness of the hinge. Then, cut the perimeter of the mortise by tapping the chisel to depth along the line with the flat back of the chisel facing away from the mortise. If the hinge has rounded corners, use a utility knife, again with the hinge thickness marked on it.
With the perimeter established, make a series of cuts to the marked depth in the field of the mortise. With the chisel’s bevel down, carefully chip away material to make the mortise. It’s best to start in the field and work toward the edges to avoid compressing the edge grain.
To complete the mortise, use a wide chisel with the bevel up in a skew motion to get it nice and flat. Before moving on, test-fit the hinge to make sure the mortise is deep enough so the hinge leaf sits flush. If necessary, shave some more off, but don’t over-cut.
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