This new precision jig makes routing clean mortises with a plunge router virtually foolproof.

The compact Mortise Pal offers easy, accurate, and versatile performance.

Template Block

Template Block

Mortise Pal

—Clamping Knob


A plunge router can cut a clean slot mortise in the blink of an eye. The only catch is you need an easy to set up and reliable way to guide your router and accurately position the mortise in the workpiece. Without a foolproof jig, routing mortises isn't always an attractive option.

If you've been searching for a solution to this problem, look no more. The makers of the Mortise Pal mortising jig have designed an easy-to-use jig that can have you set up and routing dead-on accurate mortises in a snap. No guesswork or tricky adjustments required.

—Clamping Knob


VERY SIMPLE. The Mortise Pal reminds me of a doweling jig and works somewhat the same. The compact anodized aluminum body is clamped over the edge of the workpiece. The mortise is then routed with the aid of a guide bushing on the router baseplate that mates with a template installed on the jig. It's just as simple and easy to use as it sounds.

THE DETAILS. When you open the box, you won't find a lot of parts — just the jig body, a set of four different, interchangeable acrylic templates, and an Allen wrench to change them (photo at left).

The jig body consists of a fixed fence and a fixed clamping block separated by a pair of stainless steel rods. Suspended between the two rods is the adjustable template block. It slides along the rods allowing you to position the mortise across the width of the workpiece. You'll be impressed by the precise fit and finish and smooth operation of the Mortise Pal.

The slotted templates are labeled 1", IV2", and 2", but this needs some explanation. The length of the mortise that each template will produce is actually determined by the diameter of the bit you use. The formula is simple and works like this: The template size plus the bit diameter equals the mortise length. For example, a 3/8"-dia. bit used with the 1" template will create a l3/s"-long mortise. You can make a mortise not covered by one of the template sizes by using the next smaller size template and then routing two overlapping mortises.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION. To use the jig, you need to provide three things. The first is a small plunge router with a base about 6" in diameter. The small bearing surface of the

Side to Side. First you position the mortise side-to-side by aligning the engraved mark with the marked centerline.

On Point. Then, the pointers in the temp/ate block opening allow you to easily center the length of the mortise.

Centerlines. The layout consists of a pair of intersecting lines marking the centerpoints of the mortise's width and length.

bit and a guide bushing with a centering pin.

jig would make controlling a large router difficult. But I had no trouble using a light-duty router and it easily handled the task.

You'll also need a %"-O.D. guide bushing for the router baseplate. But not just any bushing will work. For proper clearance, the guide bushing can't be more than 3/s" long and for accuracy, it should be perfectly centered over the router spindle. The makers recommend a bushing installed with the aid of a centering pin, like the one below.

Finally, you'll need a bit (or bits). Spiral flute upcut bits are designed for plunge cuts and are your best choice for mortising.

EASY TO USE. The mark of a well thought out jig is its function. This includes both the ease of use and the end result. On both scores, the Mortise Pal rates high. The setup is quick, straightforward, and easy to master. And once that's done, bit and a guide bushing with a centering pin.

routing a clean, accurate mortise is a given.

LAYOUT & SETUP. The box below shows the simple, three-step setup of the jig. All you need to do to lay out the mortise is draw crosshairs on the workpiece that mark the center point of the width and length. Then with the correct template installed in the template block, you position the jig using the engraved line on either end of the block and a set of pointers in the opening. It only takes a minute and accurate positioning of the mortise is virtually guaranteed.

ROUTING A MORTISE. After positioning the jig, routing the mortise is pretty straightforward, but there are a couple of quirks to mention. Rather than simply plunge and rout, you start the mortise by "drilling" a series of full-depth overlapping holes with plunge cuts. Right away you'll discover that the chips removed by the bit have no way to escape. They build up in the template opening and can clog the template. This is noted in the manual and the solution is to simply stop and vacuum or blow them out.

Once the mortise is roughed out, you clean it up with a continuous, full-depth pass around the perimeter of the template. The width of the template opening is actually \'(a' wider than the %" diameter bushing. The reasoning here is that this allows you to make a cleanup pass, resulting in a mortise with perfectly smooth sides. It works well and the drawback of a mortise that's V(a overwidth is pretty minor.

WHAT IT CAN DO. The Mortise Pal doesn't have many limitations. Single, double and twin mortises for standard mortise and tenon joinery are routine. It really shines at loose tenon joinery, as shown in the photo above. It will handle mortises up to V2" wide and can accommodate stock up to 2" thick. The mortise depth is limited only by the length of your router bit. (You lose about due to the thickness of the template and block.)

THE BOTTOM LINE. You may be wondering just what all this precision and convenience is going to cost. At just under $200, the Mortise Pal certainly isn't a casual purchase (see Sources). But when you weigh the price against the benefit, the Mortise Pal is a tool that will pay for itself pretty quickly. OS

The Mortise Pal makes perfectly aligned loose tenon joinery a breeze.

How-To: Quick, Easy Layout and Setup

Side to Side. First you position the mortise side-to-side by aligning the engraved mark with the marked centerline.

On Point. Then, the pointers in the temp/ate block opening allow you to easily center the length of the mortise.

Centerlines. The layout consists of a pair of intersecting lines marking the centerpoints of the mortise's width and length.

Zero Clearance Insert


Auxiliary fence

Dado blade wider than rabbet

Zero-clearance insert

To view a video demonstration of cutting rabbets on the table saw, visit our website at

Cutting this versatile joint on the table saw allows you to dial in perfect results quickly and easily every time.

There aren't too many projects that don't use rabbets for one purpose or another. You'll find them used to create an opening for a cabinet back, building drawers, or in simple carcase construction. And yet, because they're so simple, we tend not to give much thought to cutting rabbets.

Like so many things in woodworking, when it comes to cutting rabbets there's more than one way to get the job done. Most of the time, I rely on my table saw for this task. But even so, there are

Auxiliary fence

NOTE: Raise / blade into auxiliary fence to create pocket at least a couple of different ways that you can go about it.

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