I’ve made many comments about the Mortise Pal Jig and how accurate it is, but this time we’re really putting it to the test. The only negative thing about this jig is its name, but I can’t think of anything better and it doesn’t really matter what you call a thing as long as it works. And while we can all figure out a quick way to make a template for this particular task, I’m sure many of us don’t have the time.
The makers of the jig have a number of different interchangeable templates that register off two small pins in the jig. One of these is a dowling template with five holes, one being on center. I read the instruction manual and didn’t see any rules against not using all five so I figured it would be okay.
Since the posts each require three 3/8” diameter holes (the middle hole for the connector, the other two for metal spacers) I decided to drill the posts first then change bits. The picture shows the new version of the jig which can accomodate a little wider piece than the first, but still not wide enough for the 3 1/2” wide posts. No worries though, I made up a pommel(?) for the jig to straddle and clamped it to the post.
All you have to do is center the sliding part of the jig on the width of the piece and lock it down. Then you line up the jig itself on the centerline or crossline and tighten the clamp. A 5/8” guide bushing is required for the router and as you can see I like to use the Milescraft Turnlock System. My hands are as big as catcher’s mits and I’m not getting any younger so the Turnlock system is a very easy way to attach guide bushings, but I digress.
After setting up the jig I drilled the middle hole by plunging the router as deep as the bit would go. For the top and bottom holes I grounded the bit on the surface then set the depth guage using one of the 1” metal spacers as a guide then plunged those holes.
I just noticed on the picture above it looks like the holes do not line up with the original marks I had made. This is because I used the jig itself the locate the upper and lower holes. Again all I really had to do was locate the center or crossline and let the template take care of itself.
I glued spacers into the top and bottom holes and later routed and chisled a mortise on the back to seat the connector.
You can see here that it is not a bad fit. Next entry I’ll do the side rails and footboard.
-- tim hill www.newcalshop.com