The new Mortise Pal: an exceptional upgrade to an exceptional tool

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Review by newTim posted 12-23-2010 05:56 AM 6527 views 7 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The new Mortise Pal:  an exceptional upgrade to an exceptional tool The new Mortise Pal:  an exceptional upgrade to an exceptional tool The new Mortise Pal:  an exceptional upgrade to an exceptional tool Click the pictures to enlarge them

Mortise Pal has re-designed their jig and the features are more than incremental. I’m an old fan of the MP jig having bought the first two models. I was real honored to be chosen by them to test their newest model. I started a blog about the test and now that I've been able to play around with the jig I will update it.

There have been many excellent reviews of the first models posted here on LJs. For those not familiar with this tool, it is a router jig that facilitates perfectly sized and matched mortises for fixed or loose tenon joinery. It was won many awards including a Five Star Rating by Wood Magazine and has been widely praised in many reviews and videos including here on LJs. I posted my initial review on January 23rd, 2009. Just about a year ago Gord Graff posted a video review that really shows the jig's potential. You can find the detailed specs and other information including applications, videos, reviews, and a user gallery on their website at

The basic concept of the jig hasn’t changed, but it has a much larger surface area which is really nice for adding stability when routing mortises in the ends of tall table or bed rails. The jig’s rails are wider and therefore, stronger. But the real big change is a wider slot to accommodate a larger guide bushing and a strategic cutout in the bottom of the guide’s slide that really facilitates chip and dust collection. In fact, I coupled the Triton router with its extra large dust port with this jig and the results were terrific. The new jig also comes with a centering bit and an adjustable stop that fits on either side of the jig for greater ease when duplicating cuts.

I forgot to mention they increased the font size of the template’s size. If you look at the left hand picture above you can see the size etched into the (slot) template above and left. They also now use steel screws instead of brass to hold the template in place. The picture on the right shows the progresion of the MP models. At top is the original.

You had better be prepared for the learning curve! It will take you all of fifteen seconds or so to figure out how to use it. And that assumes you didn’t watch the short videos on their website. With this jig you can make any arrangement of mortises and can even make holes for dowels. In fact, I use it to perfectly line up holes for barrel hinges.

I cannot recommend this jig highly enough. Of all the tools I own this one jig has produced the largest bang for the buck. It is extremely easy to use, is very accurate and safe, it produces perfectly matched mortises, it saves significant layout time, and it is easy to duplicate the setup regardless of how much time has passed between cuts. You can make your own tenons or you can purchase pre-sized stock from the MP website. The only thing I’d recommend is you get the long router bits as the bottom of the router sits above the piece you are working.

While I’m reviewing the jig itself, I would also recommend a visit to their website. It is loaded with examples of various applications, a couple of nice videos, and a user gallery showing real projects by real woodworkers.

-- tim hill

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556 posts in 2552 days

14 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


15694 posts in 2134 days

#1 posted 12-23-2010 11:20 AM

Nice review, I’ll have to watch the videos and look into one of these. Thx for the Post.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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2697 posts in 1987 days

#2 posted 12-23-2010 12:13 PM

Hey that was a great review. I have been using my fostner bit a drill press, but I might just go get one of these.. thanks for the post..

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

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41 posts in 1965 days

#3 posted 12-23-2010 02:33 PM

Kinda annoying that I just bought the previous iteration.

Keith H

-- Keith H. I don't need more gadgets; I need more skills

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4541 posts in 2020 days

#4 posted 12-23-2010 03:05 PM

Thanks for the review. I also own one and I consider it (the previous iteration) to be an excellent addition to my shop.

There are many joinery options available. I consider this the best for many applications.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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4541 posts in 2020 days

#5 posted 12-23-2010 11:53 PM

This review prompted me to go look at the Mortise Pal website. Of all the new features on the latest version, the one I really would like is the adjustable stop.

I wonder if they could/would offer this as an enhancement for people who have the older versions.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View newTim's profile


556 posts in 2552 days

#6 posted 12-24-2010 12:10 AM

Keith… I know what you mean about buying something and then an upgrade comes out. However, I never regretted having two of these jigs. It came in handy when I had a project with two different size mortises or was working on two different projects.

Rich… The adjustable stop threads into the side of the jig so I don’t think it is backward compatible. I would encourage you to contact them, however.

All… I should have added a coment to the review that the MP people are very responsive to your questions. Rarely do you get the opportunity to talk directly to the inventor or his team.

-- tim hill

View swayze's profile


97 posts in 2033 days

#7 posted 12-24-2010 08:28 AM

It gets great reviews and I’ll probably end up getting one but it sure seems like a lot of money for what it is and you still need to buy a router and bit on top of that.

View Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist

5676 posts in 2254 days

#8 posted 12-24-2010 05:43 PM

I have an older model and use it extensively and find it an incaluable addition to my workshop. It would be nice if Mortise Pal would offer tradein upgrades for the new model for those of us who spent $$$$ for the other versions.

-- Each step of every Wood Art project I design and build is considered my masterpiece… because I want the finished product to reflect the quality and creativeness of my work

View REL's profile


48 posts in 2602 days

#9 posted 12-25-2010 07:21 PM

New Cal Shop how much do you get paid to post advertising for Mortise Pal?

I find The last edition of Mortise Pal was over priced and far from easy to use. No I am not going to sell mind or the Jesse Em mortiser I own. They remind me of how easy it is to waste money with this hobby.

I bought a Domino and all of my mortising problems went away. Yes the Domino is expensive, but is the one tool for mortising woarht the money.

-- REL, North Jersey

View newTim's profile


556 posts in 2552 days

#10 posted 12-26-2010 05:34 AM

Wow. An amazing side effect of the internet age. Anyone can accuse anyone else of anything anytime. So I’m guessing the second sentence I wrote, specifically, ” I’m an old fan of the MP jig having bought the first two models. I was real honored to be chosen by them to test their newest model,” must have sneaked right by, eh? Or perhaps the link to my blog wasn’t working? Or, perhaps all the other reviews and videos are wrong? I just cannot imagine anyone not being able to use the MP. It is incredibly easy.

Now the domino looks like a real cool tool. I’d like to have one. But $200 versus $800? There’s one thing the domino can do much better than the MP; cut mortises in the sides of bookcases or cabinets to connect shelves. But there are several ways to do that so it is a trade off. For the cost of the Domino I can buy a Mortise Pal jig, a 2 1/4 hpTriton router, a 3 1/4 hp Triton router, and still have over a hundred dollars left over. I haven’t used the Jess’m but I did watch Charles Neill’s video. It just looked more complex than the task calls for. And I don’t think it would work on the end of long rails like the MP, or in the middle of a bookcase like the Domino. Then again I could be wrong, as I often am. Just not about the Mortise Pal.

-- tim hill

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462 posts in 1960 days

#11 posted 12-27-2010 03:41 AM

Could have used this on my most recent project.


View oaklee's profile


12 posts in 1989 days

#12 posted 01-21-2011 10:52 PM

Sweet! I gotta have one. Maybe I’ll pick one up at the March Woodworking show in ATL…

View newTim's profile


556 posts in 2552 days

#13 posted 01-21-2011 11:00 PM

oaklee… your best bet would be to buy it direct. I don’t know if it is for sale at the show. If it is it would probably be on a vendor’s back table. I don’t think there’s enough margin in the product to support a national sales tour, but I’d bet lots of people would buy it if they saw it in action.

-- tim hill

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