Horizontal slot mortiser

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Project by Gianni posted 11-04-2014 02:39 AM 2866 views 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For Christmas my sister asked if I could do a small table for my niece’s playroom. Shouldn’t be too hard, I thought, but there’s one thing standing in the way… I hate (hate hate hate) cutting mortises, mostly because I suck at it and have ruined a handful of otherwise good projects trying it in the past.

Enter a search of the interwebz for a solution to this deficiency. I had seen before the Matthias Wandel machine, but the build looked pretty complex. I found a blurb on finewoodworking for a moving base horizontal router that used t-track, and combined the idea of drawer slides from Matthias’ machine to come up with this.

I was a bit worried about rigidity of the router while moving the table and workpiece, so you can see I may have overdone the bracing a bit, but it’s good and solid. I would have few concerns using this to support a car while working underneath. Test cuts turned out really well and I could cut friction-fit tenons in just a few minutes on the table saw. Overall, I’m really happy with the results, ‘cept it’s a little large; the shortest drawer tracks at HD were 14”.

The top box, in addition to giving me some height for the router handles, gives me a sacrificial top that I can just screw the clamp base to. I don’t expect to move it often, but won’t worry if it has a few extra holes in it. The back of the box away from the router is left open in case I want to reach in and tighten bolts or clamps on a larger piece.

Now for that table….

<edit> sorry about the messy workbench, need to spend a few days cleaning the garage.

6 comments so far

View JRAP's profile


96 posts in 2398 days

#1 posted 11-04-2014 02:51 AM

Great job Gianni… any chance you could post a video of it in action? Would love to see it.

-- -- Jim, Cumberland,RI -- Life is all the other stuff you do when you're not in the shop. -

View geekwoodworker's profile


378 posts in 1908 days

#2 posted 11-04-2014 01:36 PM

Nice job. Simple yet effective. I too wanted a slot mortiser and felt that Matthias Wandels would be difficult. However I said the heck with it and gave it a try and I am glad I did as it was simple to follow his plans and build. I didn’t go with the drawer sliders though. I went with 16mm shafts with linear bearings. Much easier to install. Just ensure the plywood they are attached to is square and all will be good. Here is my mortiser. . Using a 1” Core box bit (from leevalley,46168,69435,46173&ap=1 ) I route a groove into the plywood which holds the bearing and then make a wooden clamp with same groove and it holds bearing square and straight.

I say just give it a try. Whats the worst that can happen. You spend some quality time in the shop doing what you enjoy.


View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2042 days

#3 posted 11-04-2014 04:01 PM

To each his own solution to a problem. I too am intimidated by complex joinery. So, I purchased a JessEm dowlling jig. It is very easy to use, and the results are very accurate. I guess, essentially, I’m doing loose tennon joinery, but the tennons are just dowel shaped.

View Gianni's profile


232 posts in 2422 days

#4 posted 11-05-2014 03:13 AM

Here’s a short video as requested. Seems to work well. Right now I’m using a standard quarter straight bit, should pick up a spiral bit if I’m going to be using it often (don’t expect to, but you never know). The other obvious thing on the to-do list is to put the dust collector back on the router base. I had it off during the build and mounting so I didn’t break it.

View Ivan's profile


14759 posts in 3316 days

#5 posted 11-05-2014 06:13 PM

I’m always for fresh and inovative jig ideas. That’s why I like LJ.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View DocSavage45's profile


8849 posts in 3291 days

#6 posted 11-25-2014 07:26 PM


Saw the video. You make it look easy!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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