Homemade Mortise Pal jig

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Forum topic by MattKindall posted 11-01-2015 07:51 PM 3905 views 6 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MattKindall's profile


10 posts in 845 days

11-01-2015 07:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mortise tenon mortiser jig router

So I’ve been looking for a good mortising jig for building six dining chairs. Each chair has about 20 mortises and I want to finish them before I’m 100 years old (I am 42), so I needed something fast and accurate. I found the Mortise Pal online, but I am apparently a few years too late because they are out of business. I figured I could try to make one with some aluminum and plastic. Turns out my old 12” Caftsman band saw with an Olsen 6tpi blade cuts through one inch aluminum like butter! The band saw, a crappy tabletop drill press, some thread taps and a Ridgid belt/spindle sander are about all I needed to make this. Careful setup and use of a clamped-on fence got it done. All told, I spent about $60 on this thing and it works like a champ!!!

11 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1721 posts in 2766 days

#1 posted 11-01-2015 09:14 PM

Great jig!

Good luck on your chairs.

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View DMC1903's profile


285 posts in 2234 days

#2 posted 11-01-2015 10:24 PM

Well done, I purchased a mortise pal years ago. It worked very accurately, however I grew tired of making the loose tenons. So using the Festool XL is my current form of joinery.

View AandCstyle's profile


2978 posts in 2163 days

#3 posted 11-01-2015 11:45 PM

Matt, welcome to LJs. It looks like you must be something of a machinist because your MortisePal replica looks pretty good to me. Maybe you should consider selling your version commercially unless there any patents protecting the original design. I greatly prefer my MP to the hollow chisel mortiser it replaced. Will your chairs require angled mortises? The MP can do them if you make angled wedges to insert between the MP and the stock. Anyhow, please keep the posts coming.

P.S. Beautiful table, especially the sapele.

-- Art

View bonesbr549's profile


1494 posts in 2973 days

#4 posted 11-02-2015 12:18 AM

Good job, it looks cool.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View MattKindall's profile


10 posts in 845 days

#5 posted 11-02-2015 02:48 AM

AandCstyle, “looks like you must be something of a machinist” Haha no. If you saw my shop you would laugh with me. I told a bit about the tools I used, and I wasn’t kidding. It was all just careful planning and layout, and the use of a block of wood as a drill press-and-sander fence. It was really pretty slapdash, and that’s why I posted it, because I was sort of surprised by the turnout as well.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3802 days

#6 posted 11-02-2015 03:41 AM

Slapdash works! I often wished I had a bit more of the “tinkerer” in me that could come up with these jigs on my own – but that gene did not get passed on to me. I’m glad it worked out for you.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View joey502's profile


520 posts in 1424 days

#7 posted 11-02-2015 03:48 AM

Well done matt.

How wide is the polycarbonate piece? Does your router have the tendency to rock on a base that narrow?

View MattKindall's profile


10 posts in 845 days

#8 posted 11-02-2015 04:13 AM

The poly part is about 1” by almost 6” long. The router rides on the outer thick pieces of aluminum, and actually doesn’t touch the poly at all, since it sits about a 16th of an inch low to keep it from getting scratched by the router base. I didn’t notice any rocking in it, but I’ve only run a few mortises so far. The weight of the jig and the clamping pressure keep it pretty steady, in the bottom picture where it is clamped onto the wood, the whole thing is almost 6” square, so it’s a good base to ride on.

View joey502's profile


520 posts in 1424 days

#9 posted 11-02-2015 06:23 AM

Ok. I did not realize the polycarbonate was below the aluminum and that the router did not touch it.

A 6” base is a nice size. I cut mortises with plywood jigs that use a slot and guide bushing similar to your jig. Mine have a 6” square base but are not adjustable.

View FrankRGinn's profile


3 posts in 843 days

#10 posted 11-02-2015 08:44 AM

Thanks. I love it. I think it’s useful.

-- Frank Ginn

View Pete_LJ's profile


96 posts in 652 days

#11 posted 03-13-2017 04:21 PM

Nice looking jig. Excellent execution. Do you have plans for this jig?

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