Cleaning Out Mortises

Ages ago, I posted a blog on mortising tips, but I failed to mention the absolutely best technique for cleaning out mortises. (Check here to find out how to overcome improper bit and chisel setup that can build twist into your doors.) The process is dirt simple, of course. Plus, you let gravity do most of the work.


The Simple Secret

Turn the stile over so that the mortised edge is facing the floor (that’s where gravity comes in). Stick a small screwdriver into the slot (the tool needs to be less in width than your mortise). Scrub back and forth. Most of the debris falls out without trouble, but a few stubborn chunks gather at the ends to try and hang on. (No, you don’t need to do this procedure over the top of the mortiser motor.)

After you scrubbed the center section, jamb the screwdriver into the end of your mortise and allow it to slide down the wall. If you wedge the screwdriver against the mortise end wall, you’ll dislodge any remaining debris. Bingo! There’s the secret to cleaning out mortises.

— Glen D. Huey

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