Here’s a simple method that I use to cut a hinge mortise—a task that can be tricky to do the traditional, chisel-only way. Position the hinge leaf on the surface and score the outline with a sharp utility knife. Remove the hinge and deepen the cuts; if you’re working with softwood, the utility knife should do, but for hardwood, you will need to use a sharp 3/4″ or 1″ chisel, positioned with the bevel toward the waste side. Then, insert a 1/2″ straight bit in your router and set its depth to the thickness of the hinge leaf. Rout out most of the waste, leaving a little spare wood next to the scored edges—it’s better to use a chisel to square up the corners and remove the remaining waste. You should now have a perfect fit for your hinge.
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