more mortising for the frame

between holidays and rain days, we haven’t had a chance to do the layout for the timber framing until today. It was cold with an east wind, but we’ve been spoiled by spring-like temperatures til now. With more rain & sleet ahead, I wanted to get some stuff laid out so I could bring it inside to cut joinery. Pret came & did the layout, I started cutting the six shallow mortises in the sills. These are where the posts will sit, they’re only 1 3/4″ deep.

sill mortise for post

I was using one of Pret’s augers; this one cuts like a dream. A nice tool in fantastic condition. Cook’s pattern auger bit, I’m told from readers on Instagram/Facebook. I knew the shape of this auger from Curtis Buchanan raving about it for his windsor chair work. But here it is in a 1 1/2″ hand auger. And yes, this layout is marked with a pencil, unlike my furniture work. There’s all manner of modern approaches to this work, (some pressure treated wood under the sills, bolts & nuts to secure the frame to the footings, etc) but I expect all of tools will continue to be hand-tools.

cook's auger bit

There are a couple of through-mortises we’re making. For those Pret broke out one of the boring machines he used when he built his house umpteen years ago. The label on this machine is mostly worn out – but some web search tells me it’s a Snell boring machine. Made in Fiskdale, Massachusetts, over near Sturbridge.

boring machine

I probably last used one of these in the mid-1980s. So he ran through its features, bored a few holes, then turned me loose on it.

pret demos the machine


Here goes:

You can incidentally see in some of the photos that we have floor joists in, but used conventional lumber (2x6s) for them. We have only so many white pine timbers, so conserved them by using framing lumber. The joists are notched into pockets in the sills. Then they will be toe-nailed in place. They also have ledger strips attached (nailed) on, to house insulation under the floor eventually. It feels great to be getting this project going.


2 thoughts on “more mortising for the frame

  1. Definitely a Snell. Looks to be in great condition. That auger bit looks a lot like a Gedge pattern, maybe not as rounded on the bottom. We have one at work, but haven’t tried it. Have you tried a full chop mortise yet, no boring?

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