MLCS Mortising Table vs. Mortise Pal

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Forum topic by MAKZ06 posted 08-28-2013 08:43 PM 2483 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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69 posts in 1798 days

08-28-2013 08:43 PM

Looking for some input and advice from those of you who have experience with either the Mortise Pal or the MLCS Mortising Table (or any Mortising table for that matter). I’ve been reading the reviews here on the site and elsewhere. Both look like great products and I guess I’m wondering if there are some advantages or disadvantages I’m not thinking about. Aside from the portability, why would the Mortise Pal be a better choice? It seems like the table would be somewhat easier to use and could be rigged up with stops, etc. I guess another advantage for me is that I could utilize an existing fixed-base router and wouldn’t need to acquire another plunge router too. What surprised me the most was the price. The MLCS combo is only about $6 more than the Mortise Pal. One more expensive and one less expensive than I would have guessed. I had been looking at all the various designs for horizontal router/mortising tables, and planning to build one, but at the current price it’s real tempting to just buy it and be done with it. The last time I had setup shop about 20 years ago I was bad about spending all my time building jigs and fixtures and never got around to the furniture… I spent 2 years building my cabin so I would have some basement space to setup shop again and don’t want to fall back in that pattern of spending all my time building stuff for the shop.
That said, I guess I’m leaning toward getting the MLCS setup unless someone has had negative experience with it or can give me some reasons why I would be better off building one on my own or going with a Mortis Pal instead. Just trying not to make a bad decision here and regret it the first time I start on those chairs.

9 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2965 days

#1 posted 08-28-2013 11:13 PM

Well, I don’t own either, but if no one else is going to comment I’ll try to start it off with an engineer’s observation.

I have no idea why the Mortise Pal is so expensive. It looks like something anyone could make a jig for, with very little money, and a set of router guides. Then, I can’t see being able to hold a router perfectly square to the work piece with that small little base to register against. I’d just as soon have the Jessem Pocket Mortise Mill II, which can be had for about $69. Admittedly, it uses a drill and a special bit instead of a router, but either machine is a “one trick pony” from my point of view.

The MLCS horizontal router table looks like exactly what I would design if I were going to build me a mortise and tenon machine. In fact, I did design a regular router table and added a mount on the back side for using the router in the horizontal position. I just haven’t had a chance to build it yet. This machine can be used for a number of processes that a router can do. And, since it holds the router in a plate with guides and the workpiece registers against the table and a fence, it seems to me that this would be a much, much better machine.

View MAKZ06's profile


69 posts in 1798 days

#2 posted 08-28-2013 11:41 PM

Yes, it seemed much more versatile to me too with the ability to do raised panel doors, etc. I also wondered about the stability of using a plunge router with the Mortise Pal. Just thought maybe I was missing something. Really curious to hear from people who have used the MLCS to see if there are some problems or reasons why it doesn’t work as well as it looks like it would. I seen the one good review on here but if there are any others I have missed them. Thanks for the feedback.

View MAKZ06's profile


69 posts in 1798 days

#3 posted 08-29-2013 07:18 PM

Well darn. I guess everyone just built their own instead of going with the MLCS. Lack of response has already got me back to thinking about just ordering some t-track and hardware and building my own.

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3657 days

#4 posted 08-29-2013 07:33 PM

Another possibility would be Matthias Wandell’s multi slot mortising machine …

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3473 days

#5 posted 08-29-2013 07:57 PM

I have a mortise pal and used it a lot with much success before I bought a domino.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View MAKZ06's profile


69 posts in 1798 days

#6 posted 08-29-2013 08:10 PM

I’ve seen the one on Woodgears. Very nice as are so many of the home-built jigs and machines on there. I did like the simplicity of the MLCS style. I’m not sure I need the levers and height counter, etc. (Famous last words…)

Scott, Did you choose the Mortise Pal and Domino over a table because you need the portability or is there another reason they are preferable to a table?


View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4981 posts in 2487 days

#7 posted 08-29-2013 08:15 PM

I really like the Mortise pal, but I’ve never used the MLCS mortising table (not even sure I’ve seen it). I’m also puzzled by the Mortise Pal price, I bought mine when they clearanced the old ones out for the new improved model. That said, before I got the Mortise Pal, I did use some shop built jigs that worked the same way…and just as well. But they were one time arrangements without adjustments, so each job took a different one.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View AandCstyle's profile


3050 posts in 2251 days

#8 posted 08-30-2013 01:17 AM

I am similar to Fred in that I like the Mortise Pal, but am not familiar with the MLCS product. One of the criticisms is that the base may not be stable for the router. I am very satisfied with that and never even considered it as a potential issue. Another criticism is the cost; I think the quality of the engineering more than justifies the cost.

However, if you are considering making chairs, there is the issue of making very precise angled mortises. To my knowledge, Mortise Pal doesn’t provide a solution in this regard. I made angled shims that worked, but didn’t provide the degree of accuracy I would have liked. I definitely prefer the Mortise Pal to my dedicated bench top Jet mortising machine for ease of use and accuracy.

-- Art

View riderguy57's profile


5 posts in 1723 days

#9 posted 09-01-2013 04:46 PM

A bit off topic, but I really like the Leight FMT Pro. It might be worth considering.


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