Mortise and Tenon via a router.

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Forum topic by pashley posted 06-17-2008 01:54 PM 20352 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3914 days

06-17-2008 01:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tenon mortise router

I suppose THE way to make mortise and tenon is to use a tablesaw tenon jig and a mortising machine, but without that, how about the same thing via a router? It’s easy enough to use a plunge router to make a mortise, but that of course leaves you with an elongated oval. So how to make an elongated oval tenon easily?

One thought I just had – when using the plunge router to make the mortise, use a 1/4” straight bit, which should give you pretty small corner radii – and then just cut a tenon per usual on the tablesaw, and round the corners over manually via sandpaper or file.

-- Have a blessed day!

10 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4185 days

#1 posted 06-17-2008 02:15 PM

Well, you could either use a chisel to square the corners of the mortise or a chisel to round off the corners of the tenons.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Rob 's profile


216 posts in 3864 days

#2 posted 06-17-2008 02:25 PM

I’m in the middle of building my first mortise and tenoned piece and have done 36 joints so far. I was thinking of going the plunge router route; made a nice jig and all; but in practise I found I kept overshooting the ends and the cut just wasn’t good enough (too much play in the router I think). So I decided to use a forstner bit on the drill press with a fence to guide the hole in line, then I cleaned up the rest with a chisel. Seems to work better for me.

View lcurrent's profile


125 posts in 4012 days

#3 posted 09-11-2009 02:49 AM

All these were cut with a jig I made working now on a computer table that has 175+ mortises
tenons made on planer so far all have bee dead on an email and I will send some photos


-- lcurrent ( It's not a mistake till you run out of wood )

View ShopCat's profile


51 posts in 3776 days

#4 posted 09-11-2009 05:38 AM

I wouldn’t say that a tablesaw tenon jig is the best way to go. I have a Grizzly tenon jig, and was just today considering selling it. The cleanest and simplest way I know to do a tenon is start the shoulders on a tablesaw set to the depth you need, do a stop cut on both (or all four) sides, and then finish with a band saw. I can do that combination of cuts several times in the time it takes me to just hunt down and set up my tenon jig. I would save the tenon jig for complex angle cuts. Since I have only ever done one project where I needed that kind of cut, the jig sits.

For the mortise I sometimes do the forstner bit followed by the chisel, but I only use the forstner to do the two ends. The middle I do with a plunge router but simply because I think it gives me a smoother cut, also I find forstner bits have a problem with heat that router bits deal with better. It is nice having the forstner holes for line-up tho. With the left end drill hole, I simply plunge the router bit into the hole, and then set my router edge guide. With the right end hole, I can get by only half-way setting up stop blocks. I know I’m at the end when I hit the hole.

-- ShopCat

View lcurrent's profile


125 posts in 4012 days

#5 posted 09-17-2009 11:28 PM

One more try at posting photos

My Jig

Mortises cut with same

All use loose or floating tenons


-- lcurrent ( It's not a mistake till you run out of wood )

View stefang's profile


16123 posts in 3531 days

#6 posted 09-18-2009 03:47 PM

I often wonder why folks who have a band saw use the table saw or routers to make tenons. I’ve made tenons about every way possible, but I still find the bandsaw the be the easiest and the safest way. True, it isn’t as accurate as the tablesaw, but you should probably leave them a little fat to be trimmed to fit anyway. You just need a stop setup on the fence and away you go! I find routers to be kind of noisy and very dusty for tenons. The same goes for the tablesaw unless you have real good dust extraction. They all do the job though, so I guess it’s just personal preference or availability of tools.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Konomigon's profile


55 posts in 3423 days

#7 posted 09-19-2009 02:39 AM

I have made mortises and tenons using just a router in a table and a chisel. I marked the edges of the bit on the fence and aligned them with marks on the workpiece. Then I finished the cuts with the chisel. I then cut tenons with the router using a half inch bit and moved the fence back to get the desired length. Also, I used a coping saw to cut off the shoulder parts. The good thing about doing tenons this way is that I could nail the thickness with the router by sneaking up on it. I must admit the coping saw cuts got a bit sloppy as well as some of the mortises. I wouldn’t do it this way again, unless I had to. This method was used on the tables on my page. I think they turned out ok, but putting it together was difficult because of the slop in the mortises. Luckily, the tenoned piece covered it up.

-- Kris

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 3563 days

#8 posted 09-22-2009 04:25 AM

Eagle Jigs in Kansas City makes a jig called the Router Wizard that makes it pretty easy to make the mortises for loose tenons or if you just want to make the mortises and traditional tenons. You attach your plunge router to the Router Wizard.

It is a great tool that you can use for lots of applications.

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3930 days

#9 posted 09-22-2009 07:21 PM

I’ve never found plans for a jig to create mortises that was simple and accurate. Most I’ve seen just seem clunky and too complicated to setup and use each time. I’ve seem some commercial systems that look very nice, such as the Mortise Pal, but all are pricey and I’m retired and poor – I can afford wood or tools but not both and if I don’t have wood, there’s no sense in having tools, right?


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1593 posts in 3449 days

#10 posted 09-25-2009 07:37 AM

I made a mortise jig for my router and it works really well. What works for me is i just use loose tenons and make two mortise and cut a pice of plywood or hard wood the size of the mortise and round the edges with a sander or any thing that can round the edges.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

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