Mortise & Tenon Jigs - Router Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Default Mortise & Tenon Jigs

I have looked at a ton of plans to build one and the received an email that showed the Leigh Super FMT Frame Mortise & Tenon Jig on sale at $399 versus the regular $599 price. So is it worth it or can I build a suitable jig for a good deal less? At this point I don't see angled joints to be needed but you never know what future project will present. Another thought I had was I see tenons on long board such as bed rails and wonder how they get those long boards cut. I mean I've seen plans for mounting routers on their sides and can see how that works but what about the Leigh jig? Anyone with experience using one of these? The Pro model at just over $1K seems a bit too much but I haven't seen a way to compare the two. A call to Leigh may be needed soon.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 12:47 PM
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I think for someone doing a lot of M&T joints that a Leigh jig is a good idea, but for a moderate user, it's hard to beat a nice conventional mortising machine with the chisel and bit combined. The $400 price for the cheaper Leigh jig is what it lists for on Amazon. If you are more comfortable with routers, it seems to be a decent item. I'd have to be doing constant M&T joints to pop for $1K.

IMHO. I hardly ever use this joint, but might be more inclined if I had a mortising machine or jig. Since I have a nice rabbiting plane, I'd probably go with a conventional mortising machine and the table saw+plane for tenons.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 01:01 PM
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I made a screen door for my porch a year ago roughly (pics are in my uploads) and I put it all together with floating tenons. The mortises were made to each frame part with a home made jig and router. I think I used a guide bushing rather than a bearing guided bit as I recall using a 2 1/2" long straight bit which doesn't have one. The jig took maybe a half hour to make. It just has to register from one side of your material, either from the inside face or the outside face depending on your design and the top just has a slot in it. It's really not that complicated when you start breaking the problem down. If you look at their jig that's probably how it's built. It would likely have the advantage of changing the offset from the edge easily which my jig did not but mine was thrown together for that particular job I needed it for.

I also have a drill press type hollow chisel mortiser and I have a tenoning jig for my table saw which also get used. If you wanted to cut a tenon on something long which could not be stood up on a TS then the easiest method is to use a router and straight bit and take material off the sides as if you were doing a lap joint. Then you just work to a stop clamped on your work. The downside of this method is dialing in the correct thickness for the tenon. It's better to sneak up on a good fit by taking a couple of light passes after the majority of wood is hogged away but that doesn't leave anything for the router to sit on unless you build a "box" around the part you are tenoning with the same thickness as your work piece.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sreilly View Post
I have looked at a ton of plans to build one and the received an email that showed the Leigh Super FMT Frame Mortise & Tenon Jig on sale at $399 versus the regular $599 price. So is it worth it or can I build a suitable jig for a good deal less? At this point I don't see angled joints to be needed but you never know what future project will present. Another thought I had was I see tenons on long board such as bed rails and wonder how they get those long boards cut. I mean I've seen plans for mounting routers on their sides and can see how that works but what about the Leigh jig? Anyone with experience using one of these? The Pro model at just over $1K seems a bit too much but I haven't seen a way to compare the two. A call to Leigh may be needed soon.
I have the FMT Pro...
the difference between the two is the body of the jig... formed steel vs machined aluminum..
there is nothing like them and no going back either..

the smart money on tenons on long boards is a router and a planer type bit ..
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-21-2018, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input guys. I did call Leigh and was told that the Super FMT Frame Mortise & Tenon Jig was being discontinued because the Pro was outselling it. He did mention that they are making a new beginner jig with more limited ability such as fewer thicknesses and no angles that will likely sell for $200. At the price point for the Pro version I begin to wonder if that wouldn't be better spent on a Festool Domino. I'm getting a headache.....
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-21-2018, 10:10 AM
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I have an FMT Pro and have used it on long work two times. The first time I borrowed the top rail of my neighbor's deck rail and clamped the jig to it facing his back yard, so the long work could hang down past the deck. The second time I clamped it to my shop attic floor at the side edge of the pull down stairway. This time the jig faced me, but I had to stand sideways on the stairs while using it. Both ways worked well though. You just have to occasionally work "outside the box" and figure out alternate ways to do things. Both the FMT Pro and Super jigs work the same and seem to be just as accurate. The difference between them is the frame. The Pro jig is aluminum and the Super jig is stamped steel. I probably would have purchased the Super FMT if it had been available when I bought my FMT Pro jig.

Charley

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-21-2018, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Charley,

With that in mind then I guess they both use the same templates? With the Super being discontinued I was wondering if it would be difficult to get parts that wear. But if they use the same parts then I'd guess not. And I'm also guessing bits can be had by many vendors but maybe special bushings? Just trying to see what might be the problem down the road.

-Steve
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-21-2018, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by sreilly View Post
Thanks Charley,

With that in mind then I guess they both use the same templates? With the Super being discontinued I was wondering if it would be difficult to get parts that wear. But if they use the same parts then I'd guess not. And I'm also guessing bits can be had by many vendors but maybe special bushings? Just trying to see what might be the problem down the road.

-Steve


They use the same templates, router bits are common and it doesn’t use any bushings, the templates guide the bit. I would think $200 off the super fmt would be a good deal since they are discontinued.

The major differences, besides the steel base instead of aluminum base, is that the clamps aren’t as easy to use and the positioning curser for locating the mortise or tenon is less convenient.

For those unfamiliar with the Leigh FMT you may not understand the reasons for so many bits in the set that they sell. Not only can you make the common 1/4 or 3/8 or 1/2 sized mortise and tenons using those size bits (which most people would be happy with), but by using a combination of bits you can make just about any small size mortise and tenon joint for delicate pieces. They show an example of matching mortise and tenons cut into wooden match sticks.

A few months back someone was trying to make chopsticks with two different woods joined end to end to make a chopstick. Using the FMT would have allowed for a mortise and tenon fit where the end of one wood could have slid into the end of the other piece of wood, regardless of the size of his sticks.


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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 01:01 PM
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Thanks Charley,

With that in mind then I guess they both use the same templates? With the Super being discontinued I was wondering if it would be difficult to get parts that wear. But if they use the same parts then I'd guess not. And I'm also guessing bits can be had by many vendors but maybe special bushings? Just trying to see what might be the problem down the road.

-Steve
There isn't much to wear out. Yes, the templates are the same. Only a very smooth slightly tapered pin rubs on them and they are a hard plastic. The pin rotates via a knob on top and this lets you make very fine size adjustments of both the mortise and the tenon being cut, so you can get the perfect fit desired. I think this one inovation makes the FMT jigs superior to every other jig on the market

The bits used with either FMT jig are standard spiral up cut bits available from many sources.

Bushings? There aren't any. The top guide plate that the router attaches to has two steel pins sticking out of the bottom of it. One steel pin in the right side slides back and forth in a close fitting plastic guide. The pin on the left is the tapered pin with the knob adjustment that I mentioned above. You follow the plastic template with this pin and the top plate moves the router, kind of like a pantograph does as the router cuts the mortise or the tenon. You follow the outside of the template when making the tenon, and the center slot of the same template when making the matching mortise. It's located on the front left of the top of the jig and not located anywhere near the router bit.

There is an alignment sight that slides into position with cross hairs that you use to position the work location for each mortise or tenon. When making more than one mortise or tenon, you only need to use this sight for the first piece setup. Then every identical piece can be cut without the sight. The design of the top plate prevents you from damaging this sight, so you have to move it back out of the way before you can rout. The top of the jig slides X and Y and has a position lock, so you can align the cross hairs to a mark on your first part. This sliding top plate also has adjustable stops, so you can set up to four locations when you want to make a group of up to four mortises and tenons. Once set on the first part, you just slide and lock this X-Y table from stop to stop and rout each mortise or tenon. You do both the mortises and the tenons with the same setup, so the fit together perfectly when completed. Again, no other M & T jig that I know of has this feature either.

The FMT jigs cut mortises and tenons so perfect and beautifully that it's a shame that they won't ever be seen after the project is glued together. I have make them in scrap pieces to show my clients what the inside of their joints look like. Otherwise they never have any appreciation for the quality.

Charley

Central North Carolina

Last edited by CharleyL; 07-22-2018 at 01:10 PM.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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I have to admit that I'm seriously looking at buying one of the Super models. At this point I can't see any disadvantage if I want clean and accurate mortises.

Thanks for all the feedback and detailed information. I love this group. I'm getting poorer but I love it.

Steve
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