How to cut a mortise by hand

Dayne Dayne (57)
10 minutes

It can be tricky to cut a mortise without the help of machines but using this method, I find I end up with mortises as clean or cleaner than what I could get with a drill.

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Mark your mortise very carefully

Many guides cover ways to mark your mortise, so I will not cover that in depth. The standard way is to use a mortise gauge. For this method, you will need to have a chisel the same width as your mortise so keep that in mind when designing your joint.

First cut

Begin by placing the chisel about 1/8" of an inch from the right side of the mortise with the bevel facing the left side.

Work your way across an 1/8" at a time

Hit directly down and kind of hard, but don't kill the chisel. You'll see the chisel move away from your bevel just like a good chisel should.

Stop when you get within an 1/8" of the other edge.

Place the chisel definitively on the line, bevel facing towards your mortise and hit down

This will be hard and straight down, but still do not kill it. You want to be patient here because over doing it can still create pressure and damage the visible edge of your mortise.

Work your way back with the chisel at an angle

Chop in with the bevel facing upwards. Do this enough to chop most of the wood.

Clean out the mortise

Using a much smaller chisel, pry the waste out of the mortise. It is essential that you do not use the wall as leverage. It is extremely tempting but be patient and do not do it.

If you have a specified depth, check your depth after each cycle. If you're going all the way through, eyeball halfway and then come from the other side.

By the end, you should have a good mortise that requires only slight cleanup with your chisel.

Make simple, perfectly poached eggs with a golden, liquid center!
10 minutes

When I was first on my own, seventeen, and trying to cook meals that didn't include instant noodles or powdered cheese, I found that, like the literature and art classes I loved so much, food was a wonderful, creative outlet. I fell in love with the art of cooking, with the colors and smells that filled our humble kitchen, and have since then mastered many of the classics: lasagna, roasted chicken and vegetables, and spaghetti bolognese, but I have never been able to poach an egg with any success. With all these different factors, what really is the "best" way? Poached eggs are commonly thought of as the most difficult way to cook an egg. I've loved poached eggs since my first time eating eggs benedict when I was nine years old, and since my passion for cooking started, I have tried to poach eggs a handful of times and failed. Either they came out overcooked, the whites didn't bind together in the cooking process, or I ended up with a glob of eggs in a whirling pot of water. This year, I finally decided to tackle the poached egg. With every new year, I create a cooking goal. Last year, I bought six New York strip steaks and challenged myself to make the perfectly seared steak. This year, I finally decided to tackle the poached egg. The problem with learning to make the perfect poached egg is that every chef and online cooking guru has a different preference, and they all claim their way is the "best" way. They all have strict guidelines about using either saucepan or skillet, using seasoned or unseasoned water, adding vinegar or not adding vinegar, cooking it for ninety seconds on the burner, or taking it off the heat and cooking it for anywhere from three to seven minutes. With all these different factors, what really is the "best" way? I've tried every egg poaching recipe and tip I could find to create one simple guide for poached eggs with a golden, liquid center that any at-home cook can do!