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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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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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.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
 

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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
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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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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
one of our strongest attributes is helping others spend their money...
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well it almost didn't happen. I checked Amazon and they were sold out, Woodcraft closest to me in Richmond an hour and 20 minutes didn't have any, yeah I called, so Roanoke (2.5 hours away) actually had one left and they were great to take my CC so my son could pick it up. I'll meet him tomorrow morning in Farmville while he's on a job. Talk about a last minute decision that almost didn't make any difference....but I now own one.....even if I haven't seen it yet.
 

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Sam has, er, had the Domino and used it at times at near production levels...
every time he turned around there was another ''option/accessory'' to buy (there were a lot of them) running his cost into the thousands of dollars...
everything for it was expensive propitiatory..
after his 2nd transmission failure, w/ Festool balking on the warranty the second time, he got rid of it...
 

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Sam has, er, had the Domino and used it at times at near production levels...

after his 2nd transmission failure
That was something I was wondering about was how reliable that mechanism is that walks the bit around. Not that I was thinking about getting one anyway. The rule that the more complicated the mechanism is the more likely it is to fail always holds true.
 

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Steve,

When you use the FMT to make tenons, make a light climb cut pass all the way around the tenon first. This will give you a clean shoulder around the tenon, Then continue, but in the opposite direction to cut the tenon to it's proper size. If you will be making a tenon that's longer than 3/4", make it first at about 1/2 of the length and then repeat at the full depth setting. I learned to do this to keep the vacuum port from plugging. chips longer than about 3/4" will bridge across the vacuum port and plug it quickly. I attach a piece of clear Lexan to the front of my jig with some Velcro, not to look through, but to keep the tenon cutting chips from hitting me when I cut the front side of the tenon. It not only keeps the chips from hitting me, but also helps the vacuum port behind the tenon to pull some of the chips from cutting the front side of the tenon.


When making mortises, make repeated plunge cuts to full depth to clear out most of the wood. Then go back and forth at full depth to clear out the remaining material. Then continue at full depth following the sides of the template groove to cut the mortise to the proper width. Trying to just plunge and then cut sideways puts heavy load on the router and bit, and can produce a mortise that is not the correct dimension.

If you find that your mortise and tenon fit too tightly, back the adjustment knob on the tope of the tapered pin that follows the template about 1/8 of a turn and re-cut both the mortise and the tenon. Repeat this until they fit together perfectly, but realize that a few thousandths gap is necessary for the glue or you will be using a very big hammer at glue-up time. If the mortise and tenon fit too loose, reverse this process, but you will need to cut a new mortise and tenon this time.

Once the adjustments to your jig produce the perfect fit, you should be able to make as many mortise and tenon joints that you need and all will fit perfectly and even be interchangeable as long as you don't change to different material or a new router bit. If either has to change, you may need to make new test pieces and make small adjustments before continuing.


Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Charley,

That's great advice from experience. Another shining example in the value of this group. Printed out and posted on the wall in the shop. I'm just into the beginning of the assembly. I have it mounted to a board, all parts identified and laid out. Just got to the part of attaching the plate to the router. Having to wait a few hours as the new router, Bosch 1617EVSPK, hasn't arrived just yet. Glad I saw an email with a special on them as I got the kit for $150 and this way it can stay mounted, the one in the router table stays mounted, and the Colt and 1617 is on the shelf. Looks like I'm starting a collection of routers. Several old Craftsman, a Montgomery Ward Power Kraft, and I can't find one other that I may have given to my son......

Charley again, got off topic, but thanks for the advice. It's good to get it in the right direction from the beginning. I'll also reread the manula while waiting. It's something I've learned from years of missteps and mistakes.

-Steve
 

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Steve,

A bit more information about how I ended up with the FMT jig and some more tips.

You will need a router that can take both 1/4 and 1/2" bits but a huge and heavy router isn't a good choice. I usually use one of my DeWalt DW618 routers with my FMT jig. The router base of this router has matching holes for mounting it directly on the top plate of the FMT

When I first bought the jig I tried using a heavier router and I wore out my arm muscles lifting it on and off of the FMT. The 2 hp size routers work fine on an FMT jig with plenty of power for the job, yet are light enough to lift on and off of the jig frequently.

I built a wood platform to hold the router that's the same height as the jig and place it behind and off to one side of the FMT so I can almost slide the router from it to the FMT and back. For me, this has proven to be very handy. Leigh says that the router does not need to be removed between cuts, and is only necessary when needed for alignment of the first piece to be cut, but I've found that I want to see better when removing and replacing each piece , so I frequently remove and replace the router when I'm using the FMT.

I bought my FMT Pro jig when I was faced with a job that needed over 1,600 M&T joints and it paid for itself several times over on that one job. Before going to the FMT I had researched every way that I could find for cutting the joints faster and more accurately. No other M&T jig on the market had this fine adjustment capability, and no other jig that I tried made joints with the repeatable accuracy of the FMT. Back before purchasing the FMT I had first started making M&T joints the old way using mortising chisels, and my drill press using square mortising bits, then I bought a square chisel mortising machine when the drill press wasn't adequate, then built a router mortising jig from wood, and made floating tenon stock using my table saw and planer, and I then bought a Mortise Pal floating tenon jig. I was about to go with the Mortise Pal and floating tenons for this large job when I bought the Trend M&T jig. It worked and could do both the mortise and the tenon, but it wasn't nearly as repeatable nor did it have a fine adjustment capability So my M&T joints have evolved over many years learning curve before I finally bought the FMT.

Two years after buying the FMT, I sold the Trend jig for about 1/2 of what I paid for it. I had only used it for 2 days when I decided that it wasn't capable of doing what I needed as accurately and repeatably as I was expecting from it. The Mortise Pal has now been sold too, and I now do all of my mortise and tenon work, and even floating tenon work using my FMT jig.

If you should ever decide to use floating tenons (they are sometimes a better choice for certain uses), cut the mortises in both pieces instead of just one using the FMT. Then cut long stock for the tenons the width and rough thickness that you will need using your table saw, and then plane them to the exact thickness needed with a planer. The edges of this tenon stock doesn't need to be rounded. Just make them the width of the flat sides of the mortise that they are being made for. Then cut them to length as they are needed, making them about 1/8" shorter than the total depth of the two mortises. The 1/2 round mortise hole left at each end of the mortise that the square ended tenon doesn't fill becomes a good place for the excess glue to go. The flat surface side areas of the tenon and mortise are where the joint strength is anyway, so these 1/2 round mortise end areas aren't needed for strength. You can round the edges of the tenon stock if you want to, but why do it if it isn't necessary. I've never had one fail when glued with Titebond II.

Charley
 

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I have never made a Mortise and Tenon joint but if I did this is how I would do it. Besides I like using my router table. It makes me feel all warm inside. :laugh2:

 

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I've never liked the idea of lowering something onto a spinning bit like that. I know lots of people have said they've done it for years with no issues but it only takes one issue to bend or break the bit or damage the router armature. The only way I would personally do that is if I had something to act as a second fence that left a gap just wide enough to slide the board into, effectively trapping it.

My personal preference is to take a piece of ply with a slot in it for a guide bushing and rig it to sit on the edge of the board and use a hand held plunge router to make the mortise. I feel a lot safer doing it that way even if it takes longer.
 

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plan ''B''....

.
 
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