I'm going to be doing several mortises sometime soon, and as I don't
have a plunge router or dp mortising attachment, I was planning on
drilling them out with brad-point bits or forstners on a drill press,
then chiseling out the waste. Then I got to thinking - what if I
carefully set up a drill press table with a fence, chucked in an end
mill or spiral upcut router bit, drilled down at one end of the
mortise, and slowly slid the board until I cut the whole mortise? Then
I'd only need to square up the ends with a chisel. Has anyone done
this? I know the dp is far slower than a router, but if it can be done
in metal (that's the point of an end mill, right?), why not wood? I
know lateral pressure on the quill isn't good for the dp, but if I used
a sharp bit and fed it slowly, how much would it stress the machine?
I'd appreciate shared advice, experience, and opinions,
I think it represents abuse of the drill press. I prefer to guard the
accuracy of my drill press (that's why I bought it), then to try to save a
little time. I think using the drill press to drill down repeatedly guided
by a fence will be much faster than trying to cut sideways at drill press
speed. That's a tried and true approach to larger mortises.
Haven't done it, doubt the DP will do a very good job. But just because
you don't have a *plunge* router doesn't mean you couldn't use one. You
1. Mount the router horizontally to a fixture and plunge the wood into
it. Not full depth in one crack though. Also much better if you have
previously hogged out most with a slightly smaller diameter drill on the
2. Attach a couple of wood pieces under the router plate. Distance
apart equal to thickness of wood you want to mortice, position relative
to the router bit dependant upon where you want your mortice
(centered/off center). Start router, position vertical wood guides on
each side of piece to be cut without bit touching, push down then slide
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A drill bit is not designed or sharpened to have a cutting edge along the
side. You could conceivably sharpen one, or even use a router bit in the
DP. But I think the posts about using a router are better.
I've done this with an end mill and it works OK but it is somewhat
slow. The immediate problem is not that it's so bad for the quill or
bearings, but that the chuck on a DP is prone to fall off with side
pressure, either the jacobs taper freeing from the chuck, or the morse
taper adapter (if your DP is so equipped) falling out of the spindle.
A light cut of about 1/8" depth at a time with a 1/2" end mill works
OK on my DP. If you have a heavier duty machine maybe you can take a
A router bit is unlikely to provide optimal results when turning at the
top speed of your typical DP. If you don't push too hard, you might not
damage the DP, but why not just pick up a mortising attachment? The
cost would be less than if you mess up your DP, wouldn't it?
Mark Duginske does it in one of his videos.
Put a router bit in the drill press and set up a jig for registration.
Make holes all along the mortise length, then slide it back and forth
to clean it up.
Looked like it worked just fine. If you make a series of holes along
the mortise, you're not stressing the drill press out very much when
you clean up the excess. He didn't say anything about it harming the
There are mortising bits for drill presses specifically designed for this.
They cut on the down stroke like a forstner bit and then have a side flute
to remove material along the sides of the bit.
You just drill down across the length of your mortise to remove the majority
of the stock then slowly move the piece back and forth with the bit extended
down into the mortise to remove the little bit of excess remaining. I've
used before with good results
Gary A in KC
I've done it that way and gotten very nice results. but then I have a
it works, but it's slow. if you only have a few to do it might be ok,
but pretty soon it becomes obvious that making a jig and using the
router will get you there faster and better.
nothing at all wrong with using chisels, though.
I've tried that, a lot of stress on the drill press, very slow.
Make a jig for your router. I have several for different operations,
somewhat adjustable. One I use the most is for leg mortises to accept
table apron tennons.
Even though I have a dedicated mortiser, I prefer the router jig.
Much cleaner slots and faster.
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