While viewing the rocking chair instruction, Tom McLaughlin stated that he used a three-slot router bit to make his mortises on the chair’s back legs and the corresponding rockers and crest rail. That method was used for his first rocking chair. However, when he went to Tommy Mac’s Rough Cut show they used instead Tommy Mac’s Festool Domino mortising machine. They cut the mortises with his machine and then placed Festool’s loose tenons in them. Festool calls these compressed wood pieces Dominos. If you already own a Festool Domino machine like Tommy Mac, then why not use it? The large Domino Xl costs about $1,400 before taxes. It is probably worth it if you have the cash to spend. I have other priorities. I intend to buy a Saw Stop cabinet table saw before any Festool equipment.
In the class instruction Tom McLaughlin stated that he had borrowed Tommy Mac’s Domino machine. Tom demonstrated how to cut the mortises with the Domino mortiser. These mortises were on the back legs where the rockers where attached and the crest rail fastened to the top of the back legs.
My biggest concern was making the double mortises in the leg’s end grain. Tom demonstrated for me how he used in router with a 3-slot bit to cut the first mortises in his first rocker build. I had asked that question because as I explained I did not intend to buy a Domino machine; instead I would use my Bosch plunge router to make those mortises.
Tom was kind enough to explain how to use a 3-cutter slot router bit. However, I doubt that my inexperience would give me as good a result as I would need.
Therefore, I began to look for better solutions for myself. What I decided to make for my shop was actually two router based mortising JIGs. I decided to follow two plans that I found on the Internet.
PLUNGE ROUTER MORTISING JIG
The first JIG was a Woodsmith Shop Notes plan that I can clamp to my workbench and use my Bosch plunge router with an upcut router bit sized for the mortises I would be cutting. With this JIG I could easily cut mortises in aprons and rails by holding them horizontally in the JIG’s clamps. I could also reposition the JIG so I could cut mortising by holding the rocker’s legs vertically.
The image below is from Woodsmith’s web site for their mortising jig plan.
I nearly have my plunge router mortising JIG completed. I have the stops to add as well as the toggle clamps. I am planning to make a mounting block for my self-adjusting toggle clamp. I will bolt the toggle clamp to this block and then have a way to fasten that block to the front fence of the mortising JIG by screwing it down tightly with 1/4” -20 bolt stubbed knobs.
My nearly completed plunge router mortising JIG is shown in the image below.
SLOT MORTISER JIG
The other JIG I am building is a slot mortiser that I found in a Fine Woodworking article authored by Gregory Paolini. He also demonstrates an updated mortiser on YouTube. You can view that video by clicking here.
Gregory Paolini authored a Fine Woodworking Magazine article back in 2007 of this slot mortiser. That article had most of the part dimensions shown in a diagram. To view that article you may need to have an online membership. The magazine does offer a free 14-day trial.
In this photo you will see some of the parts I have milled and glued together for my slot mortiser. This photo has a mixed view of the slot mortiser parts as well as the plunge router mortising JIG parts. This photo was taken before I completed that JIG.
I went to my local Woodcraft store to buy the T-track and Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) sheet. I noticed on Greg’s web site that he also made a couple extra clamping blocks. So I have glued and cut new blocks from my MDF scrap pile. I will drill and route a couple of slots in these blocks so I can fasten them down to my T-track and then use the blocks either as stops or add a clamp or toggle clamps to hold my lumber for mortising.
-- --- Happy Howie