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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been using a Festool Domino machine for the last two years and now since I have retired I see a need for a mortise and tenon jig. I have built some of the home built ones but they have limits. I am going to build a set of dining room chairs and see a need for an upright router jig. Like the Leigh FMT Pro or the Router Boss/Woodrat. Both are about the same price. IMO the Leigh FMT Pro does mortise and tenons more to my liking. The other things that the Router Boss/ Woodrat does I am doing now on my router table. I have a Triton 3 1/4 hp on the router table.

My question to users of the FMT is what router should I use for the FMT for the best results? Dust collection is important to me. I have a Bosch 1617EVSPK combination base. So, I planned on mounting the plunge base on to the FMT unit. The other option I thought of was to purchase a Makita 3 1/4 hp. plunge router - or similar.


Thanks,

Marty
 

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Bo90sch 1619 bar none...
 

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I use a DeWalt 618 router with my FMT Pro. It fits the hole pattern in the router plate, so it attaches with screws rather than the rail method, but both ways will work and the rail mounting will fit many brands and models of routers that don't have the right hole parrtern in the plate to match it. I went with the DeWalt 618 router because it was the lightest router that I had that could take 1/2" bits. Other good brands of routers should also be good choices, if they can take 1/2" bits and are light in weight, but if your joints are small a 1 hp 1/4" router would be even lighter. You really don't need a high horsepower router for cutting the small M&T joints. I have yet to try my DeWalt 611 router on my FMT, but I think it will fit and should work very well when doing the smaller M&T work. I never bought a Domino. I just never thought I needed one since I have the FMT and also a DeWalt biscuit joiner, I seem to have all that I need, Biscuits for alignment, and M&T for heavy use strength. An FMT can also cut mortises for floating tenons, if you wish to compete more directly with a Domino, but I think the FMT is more versatile for angled work..

I built a platform of the same height as the FMT to place next to the FMT for a place to sit the router when I wanted it off the FMT base, to minimize lifting efforts.

I justified buying my FMT PRO because I had a job that required over 1,650 M&T joints (making chairs), and couldn't possibly make them efficiently using square drill bits and a table saw tenon jig and then hand fitting each pair. I needed a much better way. I had time before starting that job so I ended up buying and trying several different M&T jigs and I wasn't happy with the results, until I bought the Leigh FMT Pro. The FMT paid for itself several times over with that first job. There is an adjustment on the router plate that lets you fine tune the size of the mortise to the size of the tenon, to make them perfectly fit each other with whatever joint tightness that you are looking for. Then every M&T joint made after that in the same wood will fit exactly the same. There is never a need to go back and fine tune each joint for correct fit, like is necessary with the square drill bit and table saw tenon jig method, as long as you make the cuts correctly with the FMT. Using the same setup to cut both the mortise and the mating tenon also saves a lot of setup time.

During that job I came up with the platform idea and built it after the first day, when I discovered that my shoulder muscles were complaining from all the router lifting I had done the day before..

I also added a 8 X 10" piece of Clear Lexan to the front of the jig by placing a Velcro strip on the jig and the mating Velcro piece on the top edge of the Lexan. This was not to look through (don't bend down to watch the cut through it), but a means of keeping the chips from collecting on the front of me..It's never a good idea to place your eyes in line with a spinning router bit, even though the Lexan might offer some degree of protection.

The vacuum port on the FMT works well, but not when cutting the front side of the tenons. The piece of Lexan helps keep the chips off you, but also helps slightly with the air flow to pull the chips around the tenon and into the vacuum port. If you are cutting long tenons (longer than about 1") the vacuum port will clog quickly. An easy solution is to cut the tenon with two bit depth settings. Shorter depths makes for better cutting accuracy, and no vacuum port clogging. Since you are removing less wood with each pass, making two passes doesn't slow the cutting process significantly, because you can cut each pass faster.

Setup of the FMT takes a bit longer than a Domino, but once right it does a fantastic job, and it does the slight chair angles with ease. When multiple mortising long pieces, Leigh provides some brackets so you can attach lwings on either side of the FMT. These allow you to install stops or marks to make it easy to get accurate spacings between your mortises on long work. You can angle the tenon work in either or both directions very easily.

If you have any questions that I haven't answered, I'm sure that I can help. Although I haven't used my FMT much recently, it has seen a lot of use, and me a lot of experience using it.

Charley
 

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I use the Bosch MRC23EVS with my FMT because I like the off/on switch mounted on the grip, it offers more control when turning it on. I bought the Leigh fmt pro earlier this summer and don’t know of any tool that makes mortise and tenon joints easier. I have a general international 75-050T bench-top mortiser that I may never use again.


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

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Marty why can't you use your Festool Domino?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thanks for the input

Don,

Your right I can. However, I find that on heavy use joints like on chairs integral tenons are better. Also, the domino is great and efficient at 90 degree tenons but not as good on angled or compound angled tenons like found on some chairs.

Charley,
Great comments and insight. Thanks.

Before the Green Festool army comes down on me, I am not getting rid of my Festool Domino machine. It is a fantastic machine and I have made money with the Domino machine. I just think I want to use integral tenons on some to the furniture I am now building.

Marty
 

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I forgot to say that I use the D handle base on my DeWalt 618 when using my FMT Pro and two DW618 with D handle bases when using my D4R jig because it has the trigger switch in the handle. The design of the D handle base gives you more control and helps when lifting the router on and off too. I have one hand on the router handle and one hand on the handle of the FMT router plate to steer it around the template as I cut the mortise or the tenon. It also helps when lifting the router and plate on and off of the FMT jig, which you will do often in spite of the note in the Leigh manual that says you can leave it in place after making the setup and first cuts. You can, but sometimes you need to look closer to be certain that the work is in the correct position and this frequently involves removing the router to see better.

You will also need a hole in the platform for the router bit and maybe a few scraps attached to center router plate so the bit goes through the hole as you place the router on the platform..Make the hole large so the bit drops in easily.

Charley.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Charley,
Funny that you mention the "d" handle. I stopped in the local Woodcraft store and the clerk explained to me that he has sold the Festool 1400 plunge router with the FMT Pro. He stated that he believes that you have more control with a handle to control the router and the other hand to control the jig.
That Festool router is sure nice and the dust collection on Festool routers is not an after thought.
But, I would have to swallow hard on the price.

Marty
 

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I don't think the Festool Router vacuum abilities will do you much good on an FMT jig. The jig itself has a vacuum port included that works well, except when doing the outward facing side of the tenon. Adding the piece of Clear Lexan to the front of the jig keeps the chips from hitting you, but also changes the air flow some around the outward side of the tenon, so much, but not all, of the chips are collected by the vacuum port. When cutting tenons at significant angles beyond 90 deg the vacuum hose may hit the bottom inside of the jig, so you may have to forego using the vacuum for these tenons. The vacuum port is part of the front plate that you clamp the work to. As you tilt this plate the vacuum port on the back of it also tilts, making the hose hit the bottom inside of the FMT jig.

When using the FMT, my experience has shown that there are less chips getting on me than when using the D4R dovetail jig for the same number of pieces cut. Both jigs have their dust collection problems, but do collect most of the chips produced.

Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Charley,

You're probably right about the dust collection in that setup. It is sorta like confusing the sawdust which way to go.
The older I get the more sensitive I become to dust. Especially cedar sawdust.
Looking at getting the FMT right after the first of the year. Got too many other expenses right now.

Marty
 

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I have dining chairs to make as well. How is the slight mortise angle achieved on the back legs that will be slightly curved when complete? I assume I need to cut the mortise before I uses the bandsaw on the leg. Thanks!
 

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The leg will need a square profile so you can clamp it to the FMT, or you might be able to come up with some kind of jig to clamp rounded blanks, but I have never tried this. For work that is only curved in one direction, coming up with jigs or stops so you can make the mortise in the same position and angle on each piece will be needed, but clamping in place should be relatively easy. The FMT jig comes with brackets that allow you to make and attach clamping or marking extensions to each side of the FMT. You can design these with stops or marks several feet out from the FMT to clamp the full chair leg in the positions needed for cutting each mortise. This is shown in the FMT Demo video.

For angled cuts, mounting the work to the FMT clamping surface plate at the desired angle will achieve an angled cut in the X direction. For angled cuts in the Y direction, the mounting plate of the FMT tilts outward, pivoting at the top. Both angle adjustments can be used at the same time. I have done this for some chair projects, but all parts were square profiled blanks at the time that the M&T joints were being cut, making the clamping to the FMT much easier.

I have seen several FMT jigs being sold used recently. One of them is listed in the Sawmill Creek Forum.

Charley
 
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