Mortise and tenon joints with a router? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Default Mortise and tenon joints with a router?

I was looking on Lee Valley's site and saw they sell floating tenons. I have not done this and was wondering how you guys do it. Like what fixtures or jigs do you use and do you use the floating tenons or not? I would just like to learn more about doing this.

Don in Murfreesboro,Tn.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 07:45 PM
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Don the most common mortising jig is just a slot in a piece of mdf or plywood and you use a guide bushing to ride in the slot. For example you could cut a 3/4" slot in a piece of panel board with a 3/4" bit and and edge guide and then use a 3/4" guide bushing with either a 1/2", 3/8", or 1/4" router bit. Since you are using a floating tenon the rest is simplified a bit (regarding cutting the tenon with a router bit at least). The only issue then is the registration of the jig to get the mortises where you want them. Just as an example, if you were mortising table legs and the aprons that would fit to them, then the easiest way is to offset the aprons slightly inside the edge of the table legs. This is done for two reasons. First is that it looks better that way, and secondly it isn't critical that the mortises line up so that the edges are even which is extremely hard to get perfect. So the second job of the jig is setting the registration and if you plan properly that isn't a big problem and allows you a lot of leeway in how to do that.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 07:47 PM
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do it the old fashion way or with a Leigh jig...


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 08:09 PM
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here's a video that shows all the basics...doesn't really need to be so get the idea...


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 07:31 AM
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Depending on how many you plan on making consider a mortising machine. Sure you can make them with a router, you could also rip a 12 foot board with a router but it wouldn't be as easy as using a saw. With the router you have the additional step of squaring up the corners. You also have the additional time of setting up a jig which can be considerable. A nice tool collection is built by buying the tools you need to do the job. IMHO doing the job with a work around tool is certainly possible and sometimes necessary but never as fun as seeing the UPS man coming to the door with a nice package.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 08:07 AM
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Don, the easiest way I have found to cut mortises short of buying a Festool Domino is to build the simple jig shown. This jig is adjustable for thickness of material, it can cut offset mortises and be flipped around for a pair of mortises in thicker projects; it can also be used for decorative cutting. This jig attaches to your router in place of the sub base plate. There is a thread with the build photos of this jig on the forums.

The second photo is Rockler's greatly simplified version of a Router Workshop mortising jig. This jig is pre drilled to fit PC 690/Bosch 1617 routers. Attach it to your router, twist the router so the pins contact the sides of the work piece, plunge and cut. The drawback is you need to clamp a second piece of material the same thickness end to end with your work piece to cut mortises close to the end of a board. Not really a problem since as a rule you will be cutting two pieces with mortises to be used in pairs. About $10 at Rockler.

Another option is to use a "Beadlock" router bit to create your tenons; the mortises are made by drilling multiple holes with a drill bit or by plunging a router bit.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 10:18 AM
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The July 2016 issue of Wood magazine has an article on building your own horizontal mortiser.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 12:36 PM
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Here's how I did floating tenons when I tried it for the first time recently. It doesn't get any simpler than this. Obviously my single-use jig is much less flexible than the ones above, but it took hardly any time to make and it did the job perfectly. The important things are to make sure the fence is exactly parallel to the guide slot, and always register the fence against the face side of the work.

I used birch ply for the tenons because I happened to have some with a thickness that perfectly fits a 1/4" mortice. Since I only needed a few I just rounded the edges with a block plane, but the router table would make quick work of that job.

I'm a complete convert to the floating tenons technique after trying this. I was surprised how easy and effective it was.

Last edited by AndyL; 05-04-2016 at 12:38 PM.
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