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portable handheld mortising jig "build blog" #1: Building the router base sub assembly

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Blog entry by hobby1 posted 10-10-2013 04:39 AM 988 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of portable handheld mortising jig "build blog" series Part 2: building angle brackets for base subassembly »

Hi Guys,
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.



8 comments so far

View stefang's profile

stefang

13623 posts in 2080 days


#1 posted 10-10-2013 09:40 AM

Great machining work and a great tutorial blog as well. If I weren’t so old I would definitely invest in a mill and maybe a small machining lathe and try to learn some machining basics so I could make some of my own tools and accessories.

I am wondering why you feel the need for a biscuit joiner for gluing up panels. I realize that the biscuits or dowels will keep the platter straight under gluing, but it isn’t necessary for strength. That said, keeping the panel straight is really more of a clamping problem than a joining problem. I have been doing a lot of table top clamping lately and I found that cheap homemade wedge clamps work best. This is because the pressure is applied right at the edge and therefore there is no upwards or downwards pull that can bring a panel out of flat.

Here is what I did.This of course does not make a biscuit joiner useless. I have one and I use it often to join pieces where other fasteners would not be practical, like joining chip board and Mdf platters at 90deg angles for example, and for face frames too. This isn’t meant as a criticism of using dowels or biscuits to join panels. I just think it is a lot quicker without, and in my view gives just as good a result.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View hobby1's profile

hobby1

292 posts in 1043 days


#2 posted 10-10-2013 02:25 PM

Mike:
Thankyou, for the good writeup and demonstration of your clamp system, that’s a good system to incorporate, in my panel glueups.

I’m glad you posted this, it has made me really rethink the design of this project now, I was going to build a permanently attached fence for edge mortises in panel boards, however, now with this new info you shared, I’m going to redesign the fence system, so it can be removed, and I could use it as a handheld mortiser to put mortises on the face of boards, as well, because I have a large triton plunge router, but its entirely too big for small mortising jobs like edge to face but joints etc…, so now I can design the face of the front fence to be able to plunge my little palm router into the stock under controle, and be able to make loose tenon mortise holes, probable the size of around 1 1/8” in width, so I can insert four 1/4” dowel pins into the mortise, with a 1/16” wiggle room for glue squeezeout, and lateral adjustments.

this is now going to be my portable handheld mortising jig, for all butt joinery types.

Thanks again for the idea.

View hobby1's profile

hobby1

292 posts in 1043 days


#3 posted 10-10-2013 04:00 PM

Hi Mike, you were mentioning about not owning a mill, but would like to, in your last post,

The mill machine I have is a Harbor freight benchtop micromill drill, I bought in 2000,
I changed it over from its original gear drive to a belt and pulley system, I also was running into problems burning out the circuit boards for the motor speed controle, so I designed my own power supply to take its place, its a simple unregulated DC voltage supply, that I can switch in power transformers at there taps, to increase voltage to the motor.
Works excellent for my uses.

supply

after I got the mill machine, I needed a lathe to increase work capability,
so that following month, in january I got the 7×10 minilathe, which was on sale at the time.
The mill machine was on sale as well.

here is the lathe

Then in the summer of that same year, I got a benchtop drill press again on sale, to outfit my mini machineshop.

and built a “X-Y” table for it,

Then a few Christmas’s ago I bought this nice benchtop metal cutting bandsaw, which was on sale as well.

It’s a blurry pic, but it works real nice.

These benchtop tools has allowed me to fabricate all kinds of tooling for my shops, as well as a bunch of modelengineering models as well.

Have fun in the shop.

View stefang's profile

stefang

13623 posts in 2080 days


#4 posted 10-10-2013 05:35 PM

Wow, all that machining and electrical stuff is way out of my league Hobby1. I do have an older brother and an uncle who were professional machinists (and also good woodworkers), but I inherited the wooden brains I guess. I’m not too worried about it though, as I have no room left in my shop for new tools anyway. I will just have to remain on the sidelines as an admirer. Looking forward to seeing your finished mortiser.

I did forget to mention that I have made my own biscuits in various sizes out of 1/8” thick plywood and I have tested them for strength and holding power with the store bought ones. I found them to be actually a little stronger with my non-scientific destruction tests. They are also a lot cheaper. I stack cut them with my scroll saw using regular ones as patterns, 6 at a time. The ply used was Baltic birch. This way you can also make custom sizes if you want.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stefang's profile

stefang

13623 posts in 2080 days


#5 posted 10-10-2013 05:40 PM

Wow, all that machining and electrical stuff is way out of my league Hobby1. I do have an older brother and an uncle who were professional machinists (and also good woodworkers), but I inherited the wooden brains I guess. I’m not too worried about it though, as I have no room left in my shop for new tools anyway. I will just have to remain on the sidelines as an admirer. Looking forward to seeing your finished mortiser. I am pleased you found my clamps an interesting alternative.

I did forget to mention that I have made my own biscuits in various sizes out of 1/8” thick plywood and I have tested them for strength and holding power with the store bought ones. I found them to be actually a little stronger with my non-scientific destruction tests. They are also a lot cheaper. I stack cut them with my scroll saw using regular ones as patterns, 6 at a time. The ply used was Baltic birch. This way you can also make custom sizes if you want.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View hobby1's profile

hobby1

292 posts in 1043 days


#6 posted 10-11-2013 01:27 AM

I like that idea of your clamps alot, I’m thinking when I make a few sets for my shop, I’m going to go with the slot down the middle of the bars, to make them adjustable, that will be a good savings alternative from buying clamps to do the same kind of tasks.

By the way nice job on your table top. looks really good.

View stefang's profile

stefang

13623 posts in 2080 days


#7 posted 10-11-2013 08:09 AM

Thanks Hobby1. I have also been thinking about making clamps with adjustability. I was thinking about two narrow slots with two carriage bolts. Remember though that you need to have the stops at least as thick as your workpiece and the wedge approximately the same thickness as your workpiece. If you make the stops permanently extra thick, then you can just use thinner or thicker wedges appropriate to the thickness of the workpiece to get the right effect.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View hobby1's profile

hobby1

292 posts in 1043 days


#8 posted 10-11-2013 02:12 PM

That’s a good tip, thanks Mike.

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