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Cutting the Mortise - part three


Mortise and Tenon Joint Machinery - part three

Cutting the mortise can be done by a variety of tools and machines. There are small bench top mortising machines made by most of the tool manufacturers. They consist of a hollow square cutting chisel, with a drill bit in  the center of the chisel. These small machines will cut mortises in softer wood fairly well, but in hardwoods, like maple, they have trouble. Therefore is is important to have very sharp chisels. The quality of the chisel is important, as they will take and hold a sharper edge.

Jet Bench Top Mortiser  Hollow mortise chisel

There also attachments made for drill presses, that have a hold down mechanism, identical to the smaller mortisers, which will also do the job.




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Some companies manufacture a jig for allowing the router to quickly and easily cut both mortises and tenons. Leigh Jigs, the makers of the Leigh Dovetail jig, has a very nice unit. It runs about $ 800.00. It's a well made unit, and will produce very accurate results. The edges of both the mortise and tenon will be round, instead of the typical square joints, but that is not a bad thing.

    Drill Press Attachment       Leigh Mortise and Tenon Jig      Festool Domino Mortiser

The new kid on the block in the way of cutting mortises, and quite possibly the fastest, would be the new Domino DF 500, made by Festool. It too, is in the $ 800.00 dollar range, but if you'll be cutting any large quantity of them, it may be worth the investment. Using this tool, instead of cutting a mortise and a tenon, two mortises are cut, and a Beech Tenon is glued into them to connect the two boards. A perfectly acceptable method of doing it.

Mortise and tenon tools

It boils down to whatever method you desire, to achieve a recess cut into a board to accept a mating piece, is fine. No right way, no wrong way. The decision should be based on the tools at hand, and the amount of these joints you intend on cutting.


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