|Review by newTim||posted 01-24-2009 12:23 AM||12222 views||8 times favorited||6 comments|
January 23rd, 2009
Review: Mortise Pal
I highly recommend this jig. It is well machined and works exactly as shown; a rare achievement in woodworking, I know.
I purchased the original MP a few months back and quickly discovered it would only fit 2 1/4” (?) maximum. Well they must have heard some feedback and they came out with Version 2.0 which will straddle 3” stock and has a couple of other improvements.
Things I look for in tools include: Is it safe? Is it accurate? Is it quick (and easy) to set up? Is it quick (and easy) to change settings? Is it easy to duplicate previous settings?
I give this tool 5 stars in every category.
The method of working with this jig is similar to a biscuit joiner in that you use matching centerlines on the two pieces to be joined. I’m just an amateur woodworker and have found centerlines in many applications – hinges, biscuits, loose tenons – to be the fastest and most accurate method to line things up. The jig has center lines scribed on two axes which you use to line up the mortise on matching pieces. Again, just like a biscuit joiner, and it is very fast and very accurate. If you are joining pieces with identical widths all you need is one line to locate the center of the mortise.
Different mortise sizes are achieved through a combination of bit diameter and template size. The clear plastic templates are indexed on the jig with two pins and are held in place by two screws. My only real criticism is the screws are brass so you have to take care when seating the Alan wrench to avoid stripping them. The main set of templates comes in imperial sizes but they also offer a metric template that when used with metric router bits will allow you to use the pre-fabricated Domino tenons. The company said they are in the process of securing a supplier for imperial size tenons in sizes compatible with the jig. These should be available for sale through their website in late February or so. The new jig also includes a template for cutting round holes of different sizes for use with pegs.
There are a number or advantages to this system. The router easily rides on top of the jig so you do not have to balance it on narrow stock. You can easily set it up for offset mortises or pieces of different widths. It is also very easy to cut mortises on angled stock like picture frames. Again, it is very easy to precisely locate matching mortises in either tandem or row alignment. You could also cut two different size mortises. While I have not tried this yet, I think it would also be very useful to cut mortises for Soss hinges. To cut mortises longer than two inches you can simply make two cuts end to end or overlapping. I used this setup to cut a 4”x1/2” mortise in the end of a cutting board.
Since I don’t have a lot of time to work in the shop and can’t afford a Domino much less a horizontal mortiser, I find jigs like this to be a great value, and this one lives up to its claims. I am currently building the Japanese Style Bench from Fine Woodworking. The project requires forty mortises if you use integral tenons, but since I am using loose tenons I need to cut eighty mortises. So far so good.
-- tim hill www.newcalshop.com