Tablerouted Mortises

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The horizontal router table is my choice for mortising all but the biggest work. I've made two mortising sleds that securely hold the work, control the mortise's end-to-end size, and let me plunge the work onto the bit in stages.

You can son of freehand mortises on the machine, marking bit tangents on a snatch of tape and cyeballing the cut from mark to mark. That's a good way to get the first mortise, which you use to set up the sled. But the sled allows you to plunge-cut the ends of each mortise, then nibble out the intervening waste in stages. Doing that is a lot easier on a frail solid carbide bit. and it eliminates the need to monkey with the bit's depth setting during a session. And doing it with the work clamped in a sled like this one makes it easier to manipulate and control the workpiece.

1 used T-handled toggle clamps on the sleds. While the cost of them docs mount up—especially when you use three on one little sled!—the)' arc very versatile. (You can back out the mounting screws and use them on a different jig for the next job.) The clamps make quick work of swapping workpieces, and they double as handles for the sled. 1 used three on the stile-mortising sled so I can use one to secure a positioning stop and two to hold the workpiece.

There arc two sleds because loose-tenon joinery requires you to monise rail ends, which in more traditional approaches have the tenons cut on them. The sled for stiles isn't suitable for monising rails.

To make the stile-mortising sled:

1. Cut the parts to the sizes specified by the Cutting List. I made the base from birch plywood, and the fence and guides from scraps of hardwood.

2. Lay out and rout the slots for the guide bolts. Use a plunge router and an edge guide to do this. Keeping the same edge-guide setting, switch to a V-groovcr and countersink the slots.

3. Glue and screw the fence to the base, using drywall screws. Screw the toggle clamps to the fence.

STILL-MORTISING SLED WORKS OKJ TUE UORlZONTAL ROUTER TABLE

T-HANDLE. TOGGLE. CLAMP

Router Sled

Guioe

RAIL-MORTISING SLED

STILL-MORTISING SLED WORKS OKJ TUE UORlZONTAL ROUTER TABLE

Guioe

RAIL-MORTISING SLED

T-HANDLE. TOGGLE. CLAMP

»10 WOOD flat washer

CUTTING LIST

Piece Number

Thickness

Width

Length

Material

Base 1

8"

26"

Birch plywood

Fence 1

3"

17Vi"

Hardwood

Edge guides 2

yr

2"

10"

3 DeStaCo TC-202-TU vertical-type toggle clamps. Available from Rcid Tool Supply Co., 2265 Black Creek Road. Muskegon. MI 49444 (800-253-0421).

4 pes. #10 X I/2" roundhead wood screws

The mortising sled gives you a comfortable grip on the work, so you can maneuver it confidently, with your hands w ell clear of the bit. When you have a lot of pieces to mortise,you can use one of the toggle clamps to fix a positioning block, as shown here. There are still two clamps left to secure the workpiece. Switching work-pieces is fast and sure.

4. Drill the pilot holes in the two edge guide strips. Use roundhead wood screws to attach them to the sled.

To use the stile-mortising sled.

you first need to adjust the guides to govern the length of the mortise. The easiest way is to set one guide somewhat arbitrarily, then adjust the second to allow just the amount of movement necessary to produce the mortise.

But you also have to adjust the extension of the bit and its height above the tablctop. The thickness of the jig's base, of course, must be accommodated.

I have a centerlinc on my jig's base. I like to have the middle of the mortise roughly on that line. So I line up the centerlinc under the bit. then shift the jig about half the length of the mortise to one side. I push the base against the table's router mounting board, bring the guide flat against the edge of the tabletop, and tighten the guide-mounting screws. The first guide is now set, square to the jig's

base and parallel to the bit. I move the jig the other direction only the amount I have to move it to rout the morose. Again. 1 keep the base against the router mounting board and tighten the guide screws. The guides are now set.

The amount you have to move the jig is equal to the length of the mortise minus the diameter of the bit.

To quickly position each work-piece. I use one of the toggle clamps to lock a stop to the jig. Butt the end of the workpiece against the stop and lock the other two clamps.

With the jig set up, 1 then adjust the bit's extension and its height above the jig. A test cut confirms the correctness of the setup (or demonstrates the need for fine-tuning).

A fast way to set up the works is to rout a sample mortise freehand, then use it to set die jig's guides as well as the bit settings.

You're now ready to go.

My routing routine is this: Clamp a workpiece in the jig. Turn on the router—a foot switch makes this easy. With the jig shifted to one side as far as possible, plunge the work onto the bit, cutting one end of the mortise to the full depth. Back the work f

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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  • Essi
    How to make rails for a router sled?
    9 years ago

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