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Does anyone have experience using the Leigh FMT Pro Frame Mortising and tenoning jig?

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Forum topic by mazzy posted 208 days ago 1171 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mazzy

51 posts in 1205 days


208 days ago

I’m thinking about getting one. I have a couple projects coming up that I’ll be making lots of Mortise and tenons… http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2080506/29576/Woodworking-Project-Paper-Plan-to-Build-Tudor-Bench-Seat-AFD280.aspx

Is the Leigh FMT Pro a good jig? I see that it is selling new for about $1050 but am also seeing them on Craig’slist and elsewhere for considerbly less (slightly used).

Any comments or advise would be helpful.

Thanks,
Mazzy

-- Mazzy, San Francisco Bay Area, http://www.woodworkwonders.com


19 replies so far

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mazzy

51 posts in 1205 days


#1 posted 207 days ago

Hi…I’m back with a second question. If the Leigh FMT Pro is a good jig, would it be able to do mortise cuts in the top curved rail of this bench so as to be able to receive 17 vertical slat tenons? http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2080506/29576/Woodworking-Project-Paper-Plan-to-Build-Tudor-Bench-Seat-AFD280.aspx. I can see setting up multiple mortise cuts into a straight piece of wood but doing them into an arc type piece seems possibly tricky. Could it be done easily with the Leigh FMT Pro?

Thanks,
Mazzy

-- Mazzy, San Francisco Bay Area, http://www.woodworkwonders.com

View HarveyDunn's profile

HarveyDunn

286 posts in 357 days


#2 posted 207 days ago

Hi,

I was researching the FMT just last night. I can’t answer your questions but just in case you don’t know, there is some good information about how it works on the FWW website.

2004 video about the original model.

Review of many different types of mortisers here.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7390 posts in 2274 days


#3 posted 207 days ago

One way to do mortising on a curved part like that is by excavating
a groove the whole length, then gluing in filler blocks. I would
not expect the FMT can make those mortises due to the router
base getting in the way.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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mazzy

51 posts in 1205 days


#4 posted 207 days ago

Great idea on the filler blocks!!! That would be a very simple and workable approach. Another idea would be to start the curved rail with a simple rectangle 5.5×60 and then plunge rout the mortise cuts to the desired length along the projected arc. This would require being able to route approximately 1 inch deep to varying depths maximum of 3 inches deep. Then after all mortises are routed cut the curviture profile into the rail (would be done simply on my cnc router). But the major question is whether or not the plunge router/jig setup could use a 4 inch long bit.

Great idea on the filler blocks. Thanks,
Mazzy

-- Mazzy, San Francisco Bay Area, http://www.woodworkwonders.com

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Loren

7390 posts in 2274 days


#5 posted 207 days ago

You could do it without too much trouble on a hollow chisel
mortiser. The machine essentially works as a drill press and
squares up the mortise at the same time. Even though
I have several power tool ways to make a mortise, sometimes
when it’s awkward for some reason, requires designing and
building a fixture to hold the part or just a few, I’ll chop
them by hand or drill out the waste with a hand held drill
and pare it out with chisels.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4824 posts in 1203 days


#6 posted 207 days ago

I saw one and wasn’t too impressed. Seems okay for stationary work.

I think a Domino is more versatile and mobile.

I guess you gotta do a cost vs benefit analysis and figure out how much
you’re going to use it.
Some purchase the product for the job and then sell it and move on to the next job.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

1212 posts in 423 days


#7 posted 207 days ago

How would a domino be the answer to the kind of mortises the OP needs to cut?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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waho6o9

4824 posts in 1203 days


#8 posted 207 days ago

I could see how a Domino would be beneficial to this project
that the OP needs to cut:

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1715 posts in 1119 days


#9 posted 207 days ago

I have the FMT pro (if that’s the aluminum one), and I love it. One of the easiest to use complicated jigs I’ve ever seen. I bought mine used about 5 years ago and it’s done well on several projects, but I don’t think it will do the arched rail on your bench. At least I don’t see how it could. That aside, the thing is so easy to use I can pull it out and cut mortises and tenons like crazy. Contrast that with my DT jig, anytime I pull it out I also get out the book to refresh the steps in my mind. The FMT does take a little bit to get set up initially, especially getting the router base perfectly centered on the carrier. Because of that I dedicated a plunge base to the jig, and pull the motor to use in the fixed base otherwise. If you had to set up the router each time you might use the jig a whole lot less. The jig also does all kinds of variations of the M/T joints: double and quadruple tenons, etc. It really pays to have all the different templates, the guy I bought mine from had all those. BTW, I think Loren’s idea of using a groove on that curved rail would be the easiest.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, we sent 'em to Washington.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

1212 posts in 423 days


#10 posted 207 days ago

waho6o9,

That was quite the insightful post. My assumption was that the OP was looking for a tool to help him cut all the M&T joints in the project. Please tell me how a Domino would help him cut the mortises on the curved upper piece for the slats. Would the slat size need to be adjusted to the shape of the loose tenon? What would that look like?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View RockyTopScott's profile

RockyTopScott

1131 posts in 2104 days


#11 posted 207 days ago

I have a Domino but for the above I would consider a Mortise Pal

-- “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 Loren's profile

Loren

7390 posts in 2274 days


#12 posted 207 days ago

I think I would use the slats as the tenons themselves, if
that makes sense. Making shoulders to match the curvature
would be a pain. Loose tenons require a shoulder too.

It is very possible that the plan describes gluing up the top
rail in 3 layers.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 732 days


#13 posted 207 days ago

I have the mortise-pal and I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Brand new it costs $200. It works so well that it feels like cheating. I couldn’t love it anymore.

I brought it with me to my Father-in-Law’s house to build a bunk-bed of lovely sugar maple and I cut 40 perfect mortises faster than you can say slip-tenon. I barely escaped with it, as it fit quite nicely in his Bosch Router.

I think the Mortise-Pal could do the curved stretcher on the bench pictured above pretty easily. The way I’m thinking it could be done is as follows:

1. Butt a jointed board along the length of the curved stretcher with the curve opening away from the jointed board. (if you haven’t cut the curve yet, you can just use the board itself and the extra jointed board is unnecessary)
2. Each place where a mortise would be cut would first need a vertical reference line drawn in the center of the slat. This would be accomplished by putting a square against the jointed edge, and then draw the vertical line representing the center of the slat.
3.Next at each point where a vertical line is drawn, draw a horizontal perpendicular line to serve as a reference line for the mortise-pal. Now you know what dead horizontal is to align the base of your mortise-pal
4. Now you cut 3 wedges of varying incline about 8 inches long. Maybe 15 degrees, 20 degrees, and 25 degrees would do.
5. Next you put your align you Mortise-Pal along the horizontal reference line.
6. Place a wedge in the gap until it seats nicely and your mortise-pal is aligned with the horizontal line you just drew. 7. Clamp the wedge in place with a small clamp, tighten down the mortise-pal as per usual.
8. Cut your mortise.

It takes longer to explain than do. I’m guessing I could do the above in about an hour to 1.5hrs with just the mortise-pal and a router. Presumably there are more experienced folks who can describe a better way than the above, and they’ll either post a better way, or correct me if I’m wrong.

Best of luck. Let us know what you choose to do.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4824 posts in 1203 days


#14 posted 207 days ago

That mortise pal looks very versatile and cost effective as well. Thanks for posting Paul!

@CharlesA “Would the slat size need to be adjusted to the shape of the loose tenon?”

I don’t think you need to adjust the size of the slat as there are three positions on the Domino
to do any adjusting for the loose tenon.

“What would that look like?”
What I do is mark where I want the loose tenon to go, curves, angles, whatever, then mortise
away the waste. Setting 1 on the domino makes it wicked tight, setting 2 has a little wiggle room
to move the slat to line up where you want it to, the 3 setting has the most adjustment.
The wiggle room is sideways on the mortise.
It would end up looking like the picture, or any design you like, if I understand you correctly
Charles.

View MJCD's profile

MJCD

452 posts in 997 days


#15 posted 207 days ago

I’ve looked at this machine seriously… That is, I’ve waded through the pros and cons of the FMT, Domino, bought the plans on the Pantorouter, and studied the JDS Multi-router.

Essentially, the FMT is great for what it does – so long as you can bring the work to the jig, and want M&Ts the size and shape of the available templates.
The Pantorouter look excellent – as long as you can get your Templates precise, can build the item exactly as designed (some pieces have to be exactly half – others exactly double – the size of the bit, the Template – and your stops are square to the table…
The multi-router is very expensive ($2,800 +/-), and more people seem to selling theirs.
The Domino tool is expensive ($850, without the wooden Dominos), and initially you are limited to the Domino sizes they offer – my guess is that more than half of the owners make their own dominos. The pros are that you take the tool to the work; so the piece can be of any size (not possible with stationary devices). the Cons include limited depth (about 1” on each side – 2” total, I believe).

I know the Domino is more expensive than the FMT; however, I believe it’s much, much more versatile.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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