I was thinking about this happy memory as I began cutting the fourteen mortises in the legs of the desk I am building for my son and I realized immediately what I had to do. After every mortise, I stropped my chisels before turning my attention to the next one. Aside from the nostalgia, I was curious to see if it would make a noticeable difference. In fact, it did and I could definitely tell the difference. Stropping two chisels takes less than a minute and in return you get easier chopping and more precise work. It's become a part of my mortising ritual, a boundary between finishing one and starting another. I am not sure it is strictly necessary, but then I am not sure it was strictly necessary for the barber to strop the straight razor between each haircut either. I think the blood adds a nice touch, don't you?
I had decided to use my plow plane to complete the haunch portion of the mortise but when I got to that point I found that the fence rods aren't long enough, so I switched to my router plane with its fence. A bit time consuming, but it did produce a nice flat bottom. You may think that I made the haunch too long, but I have blown out the tops of mortises before and I want this one to be very strong. I also made a very thin haunch for the same reason. Kind of silly really since I intend to drawbore all of these joints. I want this thing to be a battleship.