Horizontal (Mike) Router Mortising Machine

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Project by HorizontalMike posted 12-07-2011 02:39 AM 22834 views 42 times favorited 43 comments Add to Favorites Watch

HorizontalMike just HAD to make a Horizontal Mortising Machine, don’t cha’ know… ;-)

Early on I knew that I wanted a 3-axis Horizontal Mortising Machine after watching just how easy it looked when things operated as they were designed. I think I must have watched at least a dozen videos dozens of times EACH, looking for the “Best” solution for me. What I ended up with is a combination of features I gleaned from several other Lumberjocks efforts and inspiration.

This machine now has a pretty decent dust collection system. While I designed this feature, it was with much trial and error in order to get dust collection into the 80-90% range. Much of the gains were incremental and inter-related. The major DC tunnel splits suction up into two major channels: 1.) the center and far side slots (away from the 4in port, and 2.) The main 4in port with 1 1/4in Router feed and a near side slot. Worth NOTING: I did take the time to calculate the cross-section area of my DC system in order to stay “under” what my single hose HF DC system provides. My 4in adapter is actually less than 4in, so that area comes out around 11 to work with. I built the far side channel at 4 and the main DC box feeds the 1 1/4in router hose plus 3 of slot on its own. As best that I can figure I am using roughly 8-9 of the 11 available in the “4in” hose. I also added adjustable “dust walls” that actually work well at keeping most dust confined to directly in front of the machine where the DC slots suck it up.

While I knew that I wanted a threaded lifting mechanism, it was fellow LJ Steve Donnelly who fabricated the lifting cradle for my Triton Router. We had to play with this awhile in order to work out the bugs… such as adding longer T-track on the router plexiglass mounting plate on the front and adding a bit of bungee to take some of the weight off of the threaded lift while adjusting router height. This helped keep things from binding.

Another incremental improvement came when I decided to cover up the router “hole” with a piece of Teflon that I had sitting around. Just used a bit of double sticky back tape and drill a hole to fit the bit exactly. All I have to do is peal this plastic piece off when I need to swap out router bits. This made a big improvement in keeping dust down “behind” the machine.

One last feature is the removable “lid” on the DC channel. I used the round “hole” piece/cutout from the 1- 1/4in hose port to make a cam-lock that works like a champ. Every time I have checked, the DC completely empties the machine’s DC channel with NO build up.


All T-Track: Mounted with #8 counter-sunk wood screws, regardless of mounting the track “surface” or “flush”.

Base: T-track surface mounted fore and aft, as you stand in front of the machine.

First MDF platform (Y-axis): Stack of 3 MDF 3/4in glued together. Bottom routed 3/4 thickness to slide on base tracks. Top has two surface mounted T-Tracks running R-to-L.

Second MDF platform(X-axis): Stack of 3 MDF 3/4in glued together. Bottom routed 3/4 thickness to slide R-and-L on first platform. Top is 100% routed and 3 R-to-L Tracks mounted flush with #8 wood screws through the T-track (counter-sunk holes).

Third platform(secondary X-axis): Stack of 2 MDF glued together. NO routing at all. Lever clamps are held down ONLY by just one side of the 4 bolt pattern. The 2 bolt holes on the same side of each of the clamps are actually held by T-Track bolts and are tightened using a hex nut and wrench. This allows me to get away with using MDF here instead of plywood. All clamping is between the T-Track and the mounting plate of each lever clamp, and this spreads the load out and does not indent the MDF.

Z-axis: Router mounted horizontally to 3/8in Plexiglass that is mounted vertically with extended pieces of T-track. NOT seen but important, are two screws (one at the top of each T-track mounted in the wood) that serve as guides for the vertical movement PLUS it keeps the T-track close/almost snug against the vertical box. This eliminates binding of the T-Track when using the lifting mechanism. Two locking T-Thread Knobs are mounted midway up the length of the extended T-Track.

More images HERE with some neat mouseover animations. Enjoy!...

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

43 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4919 days

#1 posted 12-07-2011 02:45 AM

Very slick Mike that’s going to do tons of great milling operations .Super job.


View Lance's profile


428 posts in 3868 days

#2 posted 12-07-2011 02:59 AM

Nice Mike, post a video of you using it if you have time! love to see it in action.

-- Lance, Hook'em HORNS! ""V""

View getlostinwood's profile


224 posts in 3944 days

#3 posted 12-07-2011 04:38 AM

Great looking set up, I’ll second Lance’s video request

-- The basis for optimism is shear terror

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3940 days

#4 posted 12-07-2011 04:47 AM

Holy cow, looks like you have some time, effort and engineering into this one. I would also like to see it in action. Pretty cool, well done.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7934 posts in 4256 days

#5 posted 12-07-2011 05:50 AM

Problem is that I don’t have a video camera. The only thing I have is an old first generation smartphone (Mogul) that supposedly does some video but not sure how to pull that one off. At least I should be able to get some before and after images, once I round up some more scrap to mortise…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4276 days

#6 posted 12-07-2011 06:05 AM

well done Mike.

I like the dust collection addition. well thought out.

Great project.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 4009 days

#7 posted 12-07-2011 06:45 AM

Very good looking setup Mike !
Yes I too wold like to see it in action and it’s too bad you didn’t do a blog that would have been fun

Thanks Kiefer

-- Kiefer

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4339 days

#8 posted 12-07-2011 01:26 PM

Another way to get more use from the router. Thanks for sharing !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5224 days

#9 posted 12-07-2011 03:15 PM

Sweet. I love it.
I can only imagine all the thought that went into this. Although it is kind of fun designing and building machines.

I also would love a blog or such on watching it work.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Sodabowski's profile


2402 posts in 4175 days

#10 posted 12-07-2011 03:59 PM

TL;DR, but the pictures show a nice machine :)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View mafe's profile


13695 posts in 4431 days

#11 posted 12-07-2011 04:51 PM

Thats a really nice h-router, love the dust detail, no love plenty of little details.
Nice work.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Ken90712's profile


18106 posts in 4530 days

#12 posted 12-07-2011 06:17 PM

Mike great work, very clean.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7934 posts in 4256 days

#13 posted 12-07-2011 08:24 PM

Thanks guys.

Oh yeah, I am using this opportunity to try and convince the LOML that we absolutely need a NEW Canon DSLR with “video” capability. We will see… ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 4035 days

#14 posted 12-07-2011 08:54 PM

Jeez Mike, you’ve been busy! This is my favorite one I’ve seen yet. Why didn’t you use a powerful router for this application?, lol;)

Speaking of cameras, I was reading in this month’s Atlantic (yes, people in West Virginia read the Atlantic, lol) and they were talking about that new camera that basically shoots in mutliple planes. You take the shot and then later choose the foreground/background focusing. Supposedly, it’s as revolutionary as the switch to digital. I don’t know about that but it’s pretty interesting.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View horky's profile


335 posts in 4272 days

#15 posted 12-07-2011 09:28 PM

Mike, I see some type of T-track is used for the x-y slides. Can you provide some detail on this, how assembled, MDF simply slotted to slide over? Anything used to hold together? etc. Thanks.
Great looking tool.

showing 1 through 15 of 43 comments

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