Horizontal Router Mortiser

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Project by Blake posted 1270 days ago 6704 views 75 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently upgraded my router table by adding a router lift. So I had a router plate without a home, which became the inspiration for this project.


Most of the parts are constructed with MDF. The table top is a piece of Phenolic that I found at my old job. It was exactly 1/2” thick so it was perfect for use with the t-track. I cut it into thirds, sandwiched the t-track between the pieces, and mounted it back on to a piece of MDF.

The raising/lowering mechanism for the router is a simple twist-screw mechanism made out of all-thread, a bracket mounted to the router plate and a store-bought knob.

I imbedded two rare-earth magnets next two the router plate and stuck a steel ruler to them (third photo). The ruler can be flipped from the fractions side to the other side with 10ths and 100ths of an inch depending on which system I’m using. It can also be “zeroed” just by sliding it up or down.

An Incra “T-track Plus” extends out either side of the X-Y table for attaching adjustable stops along the X-axis (see 5th and 6th photos)

The X-Y table slides on four modified ball-bearing keyboard slides.

The Slides:

Each slide had one set of ball-bearing gliders between the upper and lower section. But the slides were not accurate enough as-is because when the weight shifted from one side to the other it would rock on the glider. I also had to modify the slides so they would move in both directions from center.

The single ball-bearing glider in the slide:

To modify the slides I started by removing the stops that keep the slides from moving past the neutral position.

This allowed me to remove the lower section to reveal the ball-bearing glide:

Then I carefully transferred the glide from one slide to another to avoid losing ball bearings:

Now there are two glides in each slide. Yes, this does mean that I had to buy TWICE as many slides as I needed and waste half of them, but they are much stiffer and they don’t rock, which increases overall accuracy. It also means that they can slide in both directions but not as far as the original slides. Luckily I was able to get an awesome deal on the slides. They were an old style on clearance for 40% off (only $7 bucks per pair).

One set of two finished slides:

Because the stops were removed from the slides, I had to add my own stops between the X-Y table so it doesn’t slide beyond the point where the bearings were exposed and tiny steel balls start dropping to the floor. You can see the stops made from scraps of Padouk in the second photos.

The Test Cut

The first mortise came out flawlessly!

-- Happy woodworking!

24 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


109523 posts in 2082 days

#1 posted 1270 days ago

Very nice Blake much nice then one I made some time ago.

-- Custom furniture

View DrAllred's profile


137 posts in 1328 days

#2 posted 1270 days ago

Very cool, I wonder if computer rack mounted slides would work?

-- David, Mesa Arizona

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 2752 days

#3 posted 1270 days ago


-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View albachippie's profile


532 posts in 1540 days

#4 posted 1270 days ago

This is a great job. Very inspirational! Thanks for posting Blake

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland -

View Knothead62's profile


2177 posts in 1466 days

#5 posted 1270 days ago

Is there a patent in the future? I would think there would be a market for it.

View mafe's profile


9243 posts in 1594 days

#6 posted 1270 days ago

Really cool and simple thinking, how is the precission on those rollers?
This is the first I see, where I say: got to make one like that!
Thank you for sharing,
best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1440 posts in 2070 days

#7 posted 1270 days ago

This is great Blake, thanks for posting the the build info too. This is in my to build list so adding it to my favorites.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4038 posts in 1361 days

#8 posted 1270 days ago

that is a very neat set up.
The final result makes it all worth while.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View RandyMarine's profile


235 posts in 1874 days

#9 posted 1270 days ago

Cool, I want one!

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

View SPalm's profile


4621 posts in 2387 days

#10 posted 1270 days ago

Very nice Blake. Good for you.
Are you going to add some levers for operating it?
But maybe just grabbing the work piece and pressing it into the bit is really easier. (?)

I like it,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View DanSurveyor's profile


16 posts in 1990 days

#11 posted 1270 days ago

Nice! That makes some clean mortises.

View Routerisstillmyname's profile


653 posts in 2014 days

#12 posted 1269 days ago

Awesome work. I’m in the process of making dozen or more mortises and sure could use this.
What’s a largest/longest piece it can support?

-- Router è ancora il mio nome.

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4748 posts in 1813 days

#13 posted 1269 days ago

Great design. How far does your sliding table move? The plunge router on the back really ties it together. Very nice…

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work.

View Dez's profile


1111 posts in 2582 days

#14 posted 1269 days ago

Good Job, nice use of re-purposed parts and materials!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View rin69ga's profile


12 posts in 1270 days

#15 posted 1269 days ago

wow, very impressive! I want one

-- Dennis,Oregon

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