Horizontal Mortising Machine

Turn your router into a horizontal mortiser. Sliding tables, easy-to-adjust stops, and excellent dust collection round out this budget friendly, precision shop-made tool.

Dedicated, production-style joinery machines fascinate me. The precise control, smooth cuts, and ease of setup set the bar pretty high. Of course, mortising machines, slot mortisers, and other similar tools have a price tag that goes with the performance. I’ve been bugging creative director, Chris Fitch, enough to come up a shop-made machine that can hold its ground with the commercial models. What he came up with makes my heart beat fast.

In our talks, one of the primary goals was simplicity. He wanted to avoid a complicated contraption. I wanted a way to rout mortises in the edges and ends of my workpieces. Layered plywood assembled with screws makes up most of the construction. A minimized hardware list avoids “Unobtainium” items and keeps the cost down.

At the core of this machine is an ordinary router motor. It’s mounted to a carriage that slides side to side as well as forward and back to create mortises. Easy-to-adjust stops offer consistent mortise sizing.

The workpiece is fixed on a table using stops and hold-downs. The table adjusts vertically to locate the bit on the thickness of the workpiece. Another feature I like is the dust collection. It sounds a little lame, but many router-based machines and jigs spew dust and chips all over. The shroud on this machine registers the workpiece and collects chips before they can get away.

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What You Get:

  • 11 pages of step-by-step instructions
  • Over 40 full-color photos and illustrations and exploded views
  • Hardware sources and materials list

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