Mortises with a fixed base router

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Forum topic by mspain77 posted 04-01-2016 03:26 PM 2395 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 760 days

04-01-2016 03:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router joining

Hey everyone,
I’m finding out very quickly that I have more of a need for a plunge router than I thought when I invested in my fixed base router. I’ve read the topics regarding the benefits of a fixed base unit, but I’m wondering if I can safely cut shallow mortises with this fixed base or if I need to start saving for another. I have some ideas, but they don’t seem to be the safest and I’d like some feedback. Of course I would like to have both style routers, but I’d like to cut some mortises before that too. Any advice? Thanks guys.

-- It's a BEAUTIFUL day to cut some wood & build something!

10 replies so far

View brtech's profile


1028 posts in 2891 days

#1 posted 04-01-2016 03:49 PM

Sure. Drill a hole the depth of the mortise that is slightly wider than your bit. Then you can insert the bit into the hole, start your router and trace out the mortise. The plunge action drills a hole, but you can drill the hole with a drill bit for a fixed base router.

Recommend you build and use a guide to control the size of the mortise.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5624 posts in 2782 days

#2 posted 04-01-2016 03:52 PM

Without a doubt, a plunge router is required for that type of mortise.
However I really prefer a dedicated mortiser. If you only have a few to cut I suppose a plunge router and edge guide is adequate. I made thousands of mortises with my first benchtop mortiser. It was inexpensive and served its purpose. I have since upgraded to a floor standing mortiser and that is even nicer. But if I had a choice between a router and benchtop mortiser, I would take the mortiser any day.

Mortisers make chips rather than spewing dust at you. Several of my routers have dust collection ports, but operating a plunge router equipped with an edge guide and dust hose can be cumbersome. Plus I am into arts and crafts furniture with square mortises. That means I would have to square each end of all through mortises by hand. With the mortiser, the holes are square and require little or no hand work.

My argument may be a moot point because I believe every shop should have a plunge router. Five of my ten routers have plunge bases and I use that function often for stopped dados and inlays. I just don’t love mortising with a router.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View DalyArcher's profile


115 posts in 1088 days

#3 posted 04-01-2016 03:57 PM

do you have a router table? you can drop the stock onto the running bit in a table mounted router quite safely and easily. Mark stop and start lines on your stock and table.

Another option may be to see if you can get a plunge base for your existing router rather than replacing the whole thing.

I have cut small mortises in softwood with my laminate trimmer before, just have the work well braced and stable and take slow, shallow cuts.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


6609 posts in 2168 days

#4 posted 04-01-2016 05:11 PM

Not understanding the problem… people were cutting mortises with fixed base routers well before they invented the plunge base.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View pintodeluxe's profile


5624 posts in 2782 days

#5 posted 04-01-2016 06:14 PM

It’s a safety issue. For a brief period of time, a fixed base router would be unguided by edge guide etc.
I think we all know the issues with unguided router work.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View mspain77's profile


62 posts in 760 days

#6 posted 04-01-2016 06:27 PM

Thanks for all the input guys. Unfortunately I don’t have a router table…yet. Maybe people were creating mortises with fixed base routers for a while, but I have only been woodworking for 5 months, so it’s all news to me. I just know that I don’t see any videos of people using fixed base routers. I’ll look into the plunge base for my router. That’s a good idea and one I hadn’t thought of, so thank you DalyArcher. Maybe a temporary router table will be a next quick shop build…

-- It's a BEAUTIFUL day to cut some wood & build something!

View joey502's profile (online now)


526 posts in 1487 days

#7 posted 04-02-2016 12:10 AM

What router do you have? Maybe someone has an extra plunge base for your motor they would be willing to sell.

View mspain77's profile


62 posts in 760 days

#8 posted 04-02-2016 12:15 AM

It’s the Ridgid 2 HP, 1/2” collet corded router. Model #R22002

-- It's a BEAUTIFUL day to cut some wood & build something!

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2818 days

#9 posted 04-02-2016 11:21 AM

mspain77, welcome to the addiction, I mean habit, I mean hobby!!!

After my circular saw and screwgun,my router was my next tool purchase back in the 90’s I soon learned that the versatility of the tool was greatly improved by flipping it upside down and putting it into a table. To start I used a 3/8” piece of BB with a 1.5” hole and screwed the router to that and put in into a workmate, not the best but I made a bunch of projects with it before I finally built a better set up.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Dan's profile


687 posts in 1861 days

#10 posted 04-02-2016 02:46 PM

All I have is the Lowes 120 dollar Skil Router Table, but it chewed out these 3/16” mortises. The tenons were cut with the speed cut method from Fine Woodworking. (basically just chewed out on the tablesaw)

The wood is 5/8” thick

-- Dan

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