Mortise and tenon

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Is it possible to make mortise and tenon joints without a mortise machine or drill press? I know I can cut the tenons on the table saw, but what about the mortises? Router table with a straight bit and chisel out the corners? Any tips for this?

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

I have not made these, but I am told you can use chisels or a plunge router for mortises. A mortise machine, from what I have seen, is just easier and faster.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

I do have a plunge router…after I take it out of the table and put the plunge base back on. Then I could make yet another jig to balance the router to make the mortise. Then I get to chisel out the waste…oh joy. Sounds like I will be able to add some more lessons soon ;)

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

Well, some folks might have some ideas on a jig or some other ideas on how to cut your mortises.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

You can surely use you router table and plunge the work into the bit. Mark a start and stop line on the fence or table for the length of the mortise. Don’t try to do it in one pass, take multiple passes.

You could then square up the corners with a chisel or just use a file/rasp/sandpaper to round-over the tenon to fit..


The router is my favorite mortising tool. I now have a lot of fancy jigs to help, but early on I just used shop built mortising jigs.

"I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd

I know of two very popular solutions: plunge router and Drill Press.

The plunge router is an excellent solution, and there are many YouTube demonstrations of freehand and template-/jig-base methods: Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer) has an excellent free video on mortising techniques.

The drill press is a relatively hassle-free, low-tech approach; but does require chisels to square-up corners.

The Tenons are where most people get lost – at least that’s what I’ve surmised from reading. It takes a bit of practice, but the TS and router table, used in conjunction with each other, can make short-work of ‘floating’ Tenons. I make my own Domino Tenons, and have it down to a simple process. If you’re interested, please let me know.

Router table or just plunge router is one way to go. Another way would be hogging it all out with a pig sticker chisel and just chop it out.

Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene.

Paul Sellers has a good video showing how:

Excellent video. Thanks for sharing it. I can’t see investing in mortising chisels as it will likely be a fairly rare need. Using my regular chisels will make better use of the tools.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

I think I’ll have to pass on the pig sticker method. My first aid kit isn’t that well equipped. MJCD, the Domino tenon sounds intriguing, please share.

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!