Horizontal Mortising Sled

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Project by MAKZ06 posted 10-14-2013 04:23 PM 8453 views 20 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Finally got around to building a sliding table for making horizontal mortises this past Saturday. I came real close to pulling the trigger on the MLCS horizontal router table with mortising attachment but decided to give this a try first. I actually copied a lot about the MLCS design. I was mainly looking for a way to easily setup and do loose tenon joinery, and didn’t want to purchase a Domino. At some point in the future when making raised panels I may wish I had the horizontal table, but this solution works very well for making the mortises. I was surprised how well it worked actually, and the cuts were much better than anticipated given the slower rpm of the Shopsmith vs. a router (and a badly burned old upcut bit).
I’ve got two Shopsmiths in my shop which I picked up dirt cheap over the years. The 10ER is primarily dedicated as a lathe and occasionally used when I need a scroll saw. The Mark V spends most of its life as a belt/disc sanding station. I had been thinking about how I could take advantage of the Shopsmith and some of the features that would work well for the mortising function. The unit makes a good horizontal boring machine and their site demonstrates some methods for slot mortising but it didn’t provide exactly what I was looking for. I already had the router bit chuck. The table can be easily and smoothly adjusted for height so the mortise position can be precisely positioned. The bit can be very easily plunged using the quill feed lever and has an adjustable stop for setting the correct depth. I found I could easily keep one hand on the quill depth lever and use my other hand to slide the sled back and forth. Tightening the quill lock just enough to provide some friction even seemed to keep the bit at the correct depth without locking or keeping my hand on the lever.
The photo of the bottom of the sled shows a short section of T-track on each end between the miter bars. The thumbscrew stop on each end is adjusted to provide for a precise stop for the length of the mortise. Other than the stops on the bottom, it is setup and functions similar to the demo on the MLCS website.
I’ve got some “slick strip” tape and aluminum angle on order. I’m going to mount that along the edge to create a 1/8” high fence to register the wood against, and the other edge will wrap under and ride against the bottom of the shopsmith aluminum table. That should provide a little extra safety and prevent the sliding table from being able to lift up and off.
Now I’ve got to make some loose tenon stock and find the time to start a project.

8 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3072 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 05:04 PM

This will be a very nice addition to your shop. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View smokehead's profile


14 posts in 2307 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 08:35 PM

Great idea, wow! will use this on mine, thanks

View Eddie_T's profile


208 posts in 2276 days

#3 posted 10-15-2013 02:05 PM

Great idea, the movable quill will make it versatile. I am tempted to pick up a Shopsmith but am so cluttered I don’t have floor space for one.

View WoodDweller's profile


36 posts in 1936 days

#4 posted 10-15-2013 03:03 PM


Reminds me of the old INCA mortise table.

I just bought one of those the other day.

View MAKZ06's profile


69 posts in 2009 days

#5 posted 10-15-2013 05:24 PM

That Inca table is cool. I’ve seen several of their tools over the years but had not run across one of those. Have you tried it out yet?

View WoodDweller's profile


36 posts in 1936 days

#6 posted 10-15-2013 07:42 PM

Unfortunately its still in the post so I haven’t tried it yet. I just bought it going off the hype (INCA got a bit of a cult following). I’m hoping its lives up too it. Especially for angled deep through mortises. Id like to use it for connecting legs to log slabs, to make rustic benches and stools. But im not sure a small sliding table works well with large pieces like slabs. I guess Ill find out …

Here is some info by a guy using it with a standard router instead of the INCA table saw it was meant for. He seems happy with it.

It doesnt seem so hard to replicate a mortise table like that. Just a thought.

View DrTebi's profile


267 posts in 3472 days

#7 posted 11-01-2013 12:10 PM

That’s a great idea. And I have been scratching my head wondering how I could make mortising easier. Horizontal boring with the Shopsmith came to mind, but I was afraid the rpm would not be enough.

Are you running it at full speed? Also, how have you attached the sliding table to the aluminum table? I made a drill press table with a pivoting fence for the shopsith table, but found it difficult to attach it without drilling holes into the table.

Thanks for sharing, I think you inspired me to try this out myself. And by the way, with a little bit of tweaking you could even make angled mortises.

P.S.: Sorry, I get it now… your sliding table is sliding on the aluminum table inside the slots, so it’s not attached at all… which makes it even easier I guess.

View MAKZ06's profile


69 posts in 2009 days

#8 posted 11-01-2013 04:39 PM

Yes, running at full speed.

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