cutting mortises

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Forum topic by gav0 posted 10-06-2008 06:51 PM 1356 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 3791 days

10-06-2008 06:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining question tip oak chisel drill press router

I am going to start my first project using m&t joints for a christmas gift for my mom. I have no prior experience in making these joints and have read a little bit on this site about them. I obviously want to get them right the first time and make a nice table/wine rack for my mom. I know that the tenons will be cut on my table saw, however i have read various things about cutting mortises. Should I use my router, or use a drill press, or what? by the way the mortises will be cut in to 2×2 sotck and the tenons will be cut into 1×4.

5 replies so far

View waroland's profile


48 posts in 4152 days

#1 posted 10-06-2008 07:21 PM

Always cut the mortise first and then size the tenon to the mortise. If you have a plunge router and the proper bit, preferably an up-cut spiral bit, it will work with the proper homemade fixture. I have tried the drill press and was not happy.

-- waroland, Mount Juliet, TN

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3914 days

#2 posted 10-06-2008 07:38 PM

You can accurately waste-out mortises with a drill press -
but you’ll need to use a brad-point bit. Regular bits are
meant for metal and they will drift when used on wood.

Use a firmly-clamped fence and register the work
against it. Once the holes are drilled you use a sharp
chisel to pare away the waste.

If you have a plunge router it’s faster to do it the way
Waroland suggests.

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3820 days

#3 posted 10-06-2008 08:37 PM

If you don’t have a mortiser, you can use a router to cut the mortise and then round over the tenon to fit the mortise. I find it easier than squaring up the mortise.
Make sure you use a jig to safely cut the mortise. The main thing is to increase the surface that the router sits on. This way the router is stable. Take shallow passes. I usually limit each pass to 1/8” to 3/16”

View Llarian's profile


128 posts in 3873 days

#4 posted 10-06-2008 10:24 PM

I prefer using an up-cut spiral bit with a plunge router and an edge guide. You might need to put a piece of wood behind the workpiece to hold up the router base when doing it this way, but I’ve found this to be very successful.

I like squaring the mortises when I’m done, but I think that’s a matter of personal preference.

You can use a fluted straight bit, but I’d strongly reccomend investing in a good carbide spiral bit instead. (I only have a 3/8” and 1/2” for pretty much all my mortising needs, so its not THAT expensive)

-- Dylan Vanderhoof - General hobbiest and reluctant penmaker.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3978 days

#5 posted 10-07-2008 05:36 AM

I agree with all the above sage advice and only offer a small suggestion. You state that “I obviously want to get them right the first time …”. You probably won;t get them right the first time,or third or fifth time; (okay maybe you won’t need that many tries:-) practice on scrap wood of the same dimensions as your final project otherwise you’ll be practicing on expensive wood first and get frustrated that your project is costing way more then you estimated. I like using a mortising chisel and my good old pull saw…maybe that’s why I need 5 or more tries :-)

Success on your table/wine rack.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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