Every Christmas, I use the money I get for Christmas to put towards a shop tool, either machining, or electronics,or woodworking, 3 years ago, I put it towards a benchtop woodworking bandsaw, then the next year it was a bench top jointer from grizzly, last year it was a newer version of workmate, Now that I am taking my woodworking from a hobby level, to a God given career level, doing commision work, I realized I need to add to my woodworking tool collection,so this Christmas coming, I am looking at either a biscuit joiner, or a oscillating spindle sander, or a pin nailer, or a good battery drill, that lasts its charge longer than the 2 I have now.
As I was pondering what would best fit my needs in this, I began to think about, how I could fabricate my own tools, since I have my own little harbor freight, miniature machineshop, with these tools I can work out what tools I can fabricate, and what tools I couldn’t, and then that will help eliminate some of the choices for a new Christmas present tool.
I have been using dowels to join my boards together for glue up table top slabs, it works fine for me, however, I would like to do it more conveniently, using one tool to do the mortises right now I drill all the holes on one board edge, then use dowel centers, to mark off the other joining board, then drill each hole lining up with a brad point bit, I like using that method for complicated joinery like miters, and odd angles and odd joints, but for edge gluing panels, it is too time consuming, thats where the need for a biscuit joiner comes in, so I’m thinking a biscuit joiner is going to be my choice this Christmas, but I really need a oscilating spindle sander more, so theres a toss up, after thinking about it I realized, I need to see if I can eliminate the choice for a biscuit joiner, by fabricating my own tooling to be used as a “portable handheld mortising jig”, that i can attach my palm router too, so here is where this journey has begun, if I can successfully make this work for my standards of what I’m looking for, then I can use this as my biscuit joiner, or better yet, my version of a loose tenon router jig, I will design it to have only one permanent setting of depth, 3/8” to work the middle of a 1 x board, which is always at 3/4” final thickness, if I need to glue up thicker boards, I can mortise the boards on top side and bottom, to even it out.
It will only plunge in around 1’’ – 1 1/2” on the “y” axis, and the mortise width to be around 1 1/2” to 2” on the “X” axis.
It will be a dedicated router jig mainly for loose tenons in 3/4” thick boards for panel glueups.
Here is some pics of the work in progress.
I have some left over bar and plate material of aluminum,
here is the palm router base ready for layout and cutting of the 1/2” thick aluminum stock
Now after its cut it needs to be machined on its cut edges, to bring everything into square.
Now the screws on the router baseplate are short, so I need to mill out the profile of the router subbase, so it leaves the router subbase thickness left, which is around 3/16” in thickness.
Now to machine out the pocket for the router base to fit into.
it was slow going until I remembered I have roughing end,mills I could use to hog out material quicker.
now to mill out another pocket where the router fence attachment tangs are located on the router base.
now its all milled out ready for dry fit.
A transfer punch is used to locate only one hole in the router base.
once the hole is drilled thru with a bit large enough for a clearance for the screw, it is then coutersunk,
then with the screw tight in place, the remaining 3 holes can be transfer punched, and drilled also.
a check to see how everything is fitting.
the router installed
now I need to attach a second piece to be the start of the “x” axis bed plate, it is the left hand side of the drawing.
again I drill all 3 holes in the plate, then set it tight to the second plate, and transfer a punch mark through the center hole only.
then drill and tap this one hole, only..
Now the 2 plates are screwed tight together, and I can transfer punch the remaining 2 holes.
Now the bottom plate has a milled square edge, but the plate at the right was not machined at the joint, this plate has some cantor to it on the width of it, so when I butt the plates together there is a small gap showing out of square, to check for a good square result, I need two reliable reference points, one is my surface plate, the other is a machinists tool block called a “123” block, these blocks are supposed to be reliably square at all surfaces with eachother.
By using this combination, I can get a reliably square assembly.
I found to make the assembly square I needed to put a thin paper shim just a little on the top edge of the butt joint to tilt the right plate out a little to make full contact evenly with the 1-2-3 block.
here is the paper shim stuck in the middle
Now everything shows good squaring now I can tighten the screws and add back the router base to see how it all is coming together.
Next I need to cut two 45deg. angle brackets to give ample support betwween these 2 plates, the brackets will go on both the left and right side of the router base, to form the whole assembly as a big angle block, with a router stuck in the center.
Once that is done, then I can start thinking of the x and y axis traversing rails.
This is going to be a project that will probably take me through the winter, as I have more commission work to be done during the days, this project is a late afternoon work, a couple hours each evening, hopefully to be done by Christmas, so I can know I can eliminate a biscuit joiner from my list, and choose a different tool I really need.
If I can get this done in time, then a oscillating spindle sander is next up.
Even if I have to use a footpedal and manually raise and lower the spindle, its worth a try.
Have fun in the shop.