My latest project calls for some mortise and tenon joinery. On the few
occasions that I've attempted an m/t joint, I've cut the tenons on the
TS and the mortises on the router table with variable success. I think
a good mortising jig and my plunge router will lead to better results.
So ... I don't want to drop $$$ on a Woodrat or a machine of that ilk.
Thinking a shop-built jig ought to serve me just fine. Any suggestions
or leads to plans? I've spent some time on the router forum, but didn't
see anything that really caught my eye.
An "edge guide" on a plunge router works very well for routing mortises
on the face of stock, as you would do in a table leg, etc.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Attach a wooden fence, carefully layout the mortise locations on the
stock, adjust the edge guide from the reference edge and off you go.
For mortises in end grain, scroll down and check out the second one on
this page ... works well for mortises in the end grain of stock:
A dedicated mortiser, either stand alone, or on a drill press, is
probably your best bet. You can get one for around $200 ... well worth
the price if you're going to be doing them regularly
A world of mortises have also been cut on the drill press with forstner
bits and then cleaning them out with a mortising chisel ... much easier
than it sounds with the proper, sharp chisel.
This is usually the way I do it, and many times I won't even do the
but chisel. I've done plenty of mortises on the router and have finally
concluded I just
don't *like* doing it that way (of course, I screwed up many a mortise that way,
helped solidify my opinion). Cutting mortises with a good sharp chisel is
actually a rather
enjoyable process, and it does wonders for my inner Neander.
Free bad advice available here.
To reply, eat the taco.
Some ideas at the link:
It kinda depends on what you're after. I like the shop built jigs that
both Lew and Swingman have suggested, but decided that I wanted a bit
...and while Swing can cut angled mortises, I also cut angled /tenons/
(the photos show 1/4" tenons at the ends of 1/4" stock with a shoulder
all the way around) with this jig
My suggestion would be to try Lew's suggestion, and improve on that if
you're not satisfied. Note that you could pretty near make a career of
building progressively more "featured" jigs. :)
I typically use the jig like Lew Hodgett referenced. They are so easy
to make I don't usually even make them nice enough to keep. You can
create on in a few minutes.
If you decide to go the fostner bit, chisel method, which can be
nearly as fast, make sure to mark the location of the mortise with a
marking knife or exacto, box cutter, etc. Cutting those edge fibers
clean makes the rest real easy. This is a must of you are doing a
through mortise where the outside will show.
On mortises on the board ends, I found I wasn't getting them perfectly
aligned so I never had a perfectly flush fit once assembled. Also hard
to control the start position when working upside down on the router table.
If I'm reading you right, the shoulder of the tenoned piece isn't
flush, or doesn't close completely, on the mortised piece? If this is
happening, first check for squareness of your square, the tenon stock,
the mitre gauge or sled, and maybe even do a tune-up on your table
saw. As you rotate and locate the stock against the stop when doing
the initial shoulder cuts, if the end cuts on the tenon aren't square,
that'll show up in the finished joint. Likewise if the gauge or sled
is askew. The mortises don't need to be perfect, as they're usually
hidden by the tenon shoulders. HTH Tom
One method of avoiding gaps at the shoulders is to under cut them with
a chisel so the shoulder has very sharp pointed edge where it meets
the face of the mortised piece. This avoids any face contact that
could hold them off and the point will crush a bit under pressure and
close the gap. There really isn't much value in the face to face
contact of the end grain of the tenoned piece with the face of the
This was a pretty common practice in the old hand cut pieces. I have
seen it on several antiques I've repaired, especially chairs.
Well, well, how 'bout that. I did a Google search on "undercut tenon
shoulder" and the first hit is a FWW article showing the same
technique. Haven't read it all yet but the pictures look like they are
doing as I mentioned.
When I first started in woodworking, I took a Junior college course
offered on weekends. The project they assigned us absolutely sucked. It
was a pine bookshelf that... oh, never mind. I never finished it.
The project was a teaser to get people in to learn to sharpen, and
gather a few more skills. Sharpen we did. Plane irons and chisels, all
freehand on oil stones.
I don't recommend that a novice attempt freehand sharpening. There's too
much room for frustration. With frustration comes the temptation to just
give up, and that would be a shame.
However, what I learned in that course is not necessarily sharpening
itself, but the fact that a plane or chisel could be "thrillingly"
sharp, a sensation I'd previously never experienced, and didn't think I
was capable of achieving. Once I got that spine tingle of sharpness, it
was something I never forgot, and never regretted trying to duplicate.
There are a ton of ways to get there; oilstones, water stones, Tormek
wet systems, the round spinny thing that Swingman recommends (can't
recall the name), sandpaper on a flat surface, etc. All seem to give
that edge that tickles your testicles.
Try Leonard Lee's book on sharpening,
It's excellent and recommends a few different ways of attaining an edge.
Then decide on a system to sharpen and work at it til it feels right. It
won't be, but it's a hell of a good start.
There really is nothing to compare the feeling of shaving off something
that is so thin you didn't think it even existed, but that one shaving
makes your pieces fit together "just-so". The only way you can do that
is with a tool you sharpened yourself. And once you've done that, you'll
find that you have no tolerance for semi-sharp tools.
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