Step-back Cupboard Build #11: Simple router mortise jig gets some shop time

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Blog entry by rwyoung posted 06-23-2009 05:21 AM 4547 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Lower case stiles Part 11 of Step-back Cupboard Build series Part 12: In the immortal words of MC Hammer: Stop! Router Time! »

I cut and milled the stock for the upper face frame this evening. This frame has only three sides, two stiles and a top rail. Just for giggles, the top rail is going to be joined with a mortise and tenon joint. Could just have been a butt joint, biscuits or heaven-forbid, pocket screws! But a M&T joint seems most appropriate. With 3/4” stock, this isn’t exactly going to be a super strong joint. Just want something reasonably sturdy, not like this is a load-bearing member, just decorative.

The tenons will be nominally 1/4” thick, 1” long and 3-1/2” wide (the top rail is 5-1/2” wide). Nothing special about those numbers, just nice easy numbers to work with while laying out the parts and I have a 1/4” spiral bit.

Lots of different ways to cut mortises, all chisel work, brace and bit + chisel, drill press + chisel, fancy loose tenon tools, power mortiser and of course router. I made a simple mortising base for my router some time back. This one is not the self-centering type because when I made it, I did not need a centered mortise.

Here you can see from the underside the two sliding fences that will ride against my work piece. Red oak for the fences and 1/4” hardboard for the base plate.

The stock is only 3/4” wide so I’m going to clamp the two stiles together to get 1-1/2” surface to ride. Layout the start and stop lines and set up a couple of blocks as stops to keep the router bit inside the lines. I’ll square up and clean up with a couple quick taps of the chisel.

Set the two sliding fences so the bit is centered over one workpiece. To route the second piece, you just flip the jig around.

The mortise is going to be 1” deep so don’t take all that in one pass. I’m using a plunge base so the maximum depth is set to 1-1/16” (leaves a little room for glue later) and I use the turret stop to make the mortise in a few passes.

Done with one, now flip around and cut the second.

It took longer to write this than it did to cut them. The longest part of the set up was unscrewing the plastic sub-base from the plunge base and then screwing on the mortising jig base.

I don’t have a power mortiser, or true mortising chisels (only bench chisels) and my drill press is pretty darn small. So to make a mortise near the end of a relatively long piece, I need to pile up blocks to support the far end. With this rig, I could clamp everything to the workbench so it was very well supported over its full length. And poplar cuts so nicely with a spiral bit.

Tomorrow I’ll clean up the corners of the mortise (notice I did slip a little over the end line on the first one, no big deal). Then I’ll get the tenons roughed at the table saw and pare them down to fit. After that, there is a detail to route on the outside edge of the stiles and the whole thing can be attached to the carcass. After that, all that is left is to make the door and molding. :)

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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