Mortise Pal - A Great Tool

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Review by mcase posted 09-08-2010 06:13 AM 9244 views 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Mortise Pal -  A Great Tool Mortise Pal -  A Great Tool Mortise Pal -  A Great Tool Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’m a big fan of floating tenons. They are clean shouldered, very strong and very quick. So when I got a job for fir doors I wanted to use floating tenons. The problem for me was Getting them deep and wide enough for an exterior door. For most of my floating tenon mortises I use the Festool Domino. But while this a great machine it only cuts a mortise to 1” by 50mm thick. I could have used my hollow chisel mortiser and employed traditional mortise and tenon. This is a slow process and is often not as clean shouldered as floating Tenons. I even thought about buying a slot mortiser, but then remembered the great reviews I read about the Mortise Pal. Every owner seemed very happy with it, so I gave it a shot. It arrived promptly and turned out to be a well crafted tool. Its made in the USA and it shows. The Mortise pal was a breeze to use and very accurate. As you can see in the photos – The results were terrific! For only $169.00 I have to say this tool was worth every penny.

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446 posts in 3981 days

8 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3719 days

#1 posted 09-08-2010 11:38 AM

That looks like a nice tool and seems to do a good job. Thanks for posting.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3927 days

#2 posted 09-08-2010 03:05 PM

I went through a lengthy process to decide on a faster, slicker way to do mortise and tenon joints. I considered virtually every option available and ended up with the Mortise Pal. I’m confident I made the right decision and I second everything you say.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View REL's profile


86 posts in 4509 days

#3 posted 09-09-2010 04:12 AM

I have the Mortise Pal. I found it just okay. The tenons were a bit loose. I bought some extra “sleeves”or plates which were sized to closer tolerences. I also used tape to help and resize. The owner was a nice guy, however in the end Mortise Pal was not for me. I will sell mine, if anyone is interested, for a “fair” price. I also have a brand new Large Zip Slot Jessen Mortiser which I would like to get rid of.

I finally went with the Domino. What a dream to use! Expensive, but a real pleasure if you like loose tenons

-- REL, North Jersey

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3981 days

#4 posted 09-09-2010 04:51 AM


I own the domino too and use the mp for larger mortises. I can’t comment on the tenons they market. If they were loose I’m sorry you had a problem. Before you sell your mp try making your own tenons. Tenons can vary with the weather, literally. For example the beech tenons that Festool markets are pressed with a pattern to help compensate for this. This actually leaves less glue surface IMO and often people still have resort to resort to cooking then briefly in a microwave in order to shrink them when they swell in humid weather. Shrinking tenons or shimming tenons as you had to do or the impresses are all a waste IMO. Make your mortises and then mill up some tenons with your planer. I would advise to not even bother with rounding the edges but simple make them small enough to fit with square edges. The vast majority of the strength is the glue contact and you lose almost no strength doing this. You will also find that assembly is far, far easier this way as well. Give it shot and you may be happy with the results. I would also warn you about the relying on the domino as the impressions do not leave a lot of surface to surface glue contact. I would recommend smooth surface shop-made tenons here as well. In my experience they produce a far stronger joint than rough impressed surfaced dominos. Anyway happy woodworking!

View AaronK's profile


1511 posts in 4316 days

#5 posted 09-10-2010 08:22 PM

thanks for the review. I wonder how this compares with the similarly priced (though different principle of operation) Jessem jig.

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3981 days

#6 posted 09-12-2010 10:26 PM


I looked at the Jessem mortiser. It looks like it only cuts little domino size mortises and from the reviews it does not seem to do this very well. Jessem has had a lot of quality control issues of late. Their sliding table has gotten horrible reviews and now they have problems with their router lift and their mortiser. They moved their manufacturing to China and the move was a disaster. The are now in the process of dumping the China junk at fire-sale prices and moving manufacturing back to Canada. So buyer beware of what they now call their import products. To answer your door question: The rails and stiles are vertical grain Douglas fir. The panels are eastern white pine. Its been painted a nice forest green and been installed in a suburban home near Boston.

View AaronK's profile


1511 posts in 4316 days

#7 posted 09-13-2010 02:41 AM

thanks for the input on the jessem unit – from what i’d understood, they made good stuff – hopefully they will once again.

View pipersville's profile


1 post in 2544 days

#8 posted 10-07-2013 06:22 PM

Thanks for the review, mcase. How deep were the mortises and if they were deeper than 11/4” how did you do it with the mortise pal? Was it just a matter of using a longer bit? If so, where would I get one. I am planning on making a storm/screen door using loose tenon joinery. Thanks for any advise you can give….

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