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I'm a newer woodworker looking to do mortise and tenon for a coffee table.

Don't have M&T specific equipment but do have: table saw, plunge/base router, power drill.

All I'm looking to do is make rectangular/square mortises and tenons in red oak.

The lady at Rockler pointed me to a $159 thing that makes rounded tenons and mortises, which had abysmal reviews. Lowe's apparently has none of this kind of stuff, which surprised me a little.

My budget is limited.

Any suggestions on what to buy?
 

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where's my table saw?
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use your router!

Replace the base with one of these OR modify yours:
http://www.rockler.com/mortise-centering-router-base

It's just 2 pins equal distance from the center hole. You twist the router so the pins contact the sides of the piece and center the bit. Plunge down to the depth you want and control your mortise lengths with stops or marks. Then chisel out the corners with a heavy chisel or one of these:
http://www.rockler.com/search/go?w=corner%20chisel&asug=&sli_uuid=&sli_sid=

You can use a fence on your router, BUT it requires measuring to get the mortise centered, a bit more work. By flipping the router around you will get a mortises that is centered:

That will get you going! :yes:
 

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Cut the tenon on the table saw.

One method.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f30/bump-cut-tenons-53375/#post498367

Mortise can be drilled by hand and cleaned up with a chisel.

Woodnthings shows how he uses his plunge router in this thread.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f5/i-hate-my-mortise-machine-46007/index2/

You can also use a dowel jig to drill the series of holes. Benefit of this is you can also use it in the instances when you just want to use a dowel. Clean up with chisel to match the tenon.

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2000782/9874/Deluxe-Doweling-Jig.aspx

The decision of which comes first the tenon or the mortise can be personal preference.

I like to make the mortise, and then make the tenon a tad thicker and trim the tenon to fit.
 

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Try doing one is a piece of scrap wood the same species as you want to build the table from. Hog out most of the material in the mortise with a drill, and clean it up with a chisel. Cut the mortise first, and fit the tenon to it. There are all sorts of ways to do it, but doing a few by hand will give you an idea of what's required, and some good experience.

If I have one, or a few to do, I'll do the mortises by hand, and sometimes the tenon too. Look on my "Windows" page, and you will see a project where I had to do hundreds. After cleaning the mortise up, even if cut with a machine. I fit each tenon, mostly with a Paring chisel, and wood files and plane floats once it gets close.

Some machines can fit them perfectly to start with, but I'd encourage anyone just starting to learn by hand first rather than spending a bunch of money on something when you will probably decide later that you'd rather do it a different way.
 

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With not much practice I was able to get well fitting joints with a veritas dovetail saw, a marking gaugue, and a 1/4" irwin chisel. The saw is the most expensive part but I`ve used mine about as much as any other tool in my shop. It takes some time to get the technique down but I far prefer it to dropping a piece onto a spinning router bit. My biggest suggestion is youtube, thousands of how to videos on this.
 

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I recently build a buffet that included 60+ M&T...overkill probably but I wanted to get the practice haha. Mortises were done with a drill and chisel. Tenons were all cut on a table saw and finessed with a chisel. It was pretty easy once I got the hang of it and probably will continue to do them this way.
 

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The Old Fisherman
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Isn't there a jig? or device that can be purchased that attaches to a drill press that cuts the square corners as it drills?
 

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There are mortising jigs for drill presses but the reviews are almost unanimously negative. "I smile with happiness everytime I think of my mortising jigs rusting in some landfill".... for example. The problem is the most dril presses aren`t designed to engage with the force required for a mortising bit to work correctly. A mortiser would be your best bet but because of the $300 cost for such a specialized machine I went for forstner bits in a floorstanding drill press and a nice set of chisels to square out the holes or a rabbet plane to take of the tenon corners.
 

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I used a drill press mortising attachment for decades before I finally bought a dedicated hollow chisel mortiser. I usually only built one set of kitchen cabinets, and a few pieces of furniture a year with it though.

Now I have two HCMs. They work fine if you don't go over 1/2" chisels for the benchtop machines. I don't know why people don't like them, unless they expect the machine to do all the work for them without thinking about how to keep it set up right.
 

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where's my table saw?
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they work fine but....

If you have 50 or 60 mortises to make, it's just too slow. I use the plunge router and a side fence/guide/jig . I didn't realize that you have to pull down on the beefy handle pretty hard on the first hole because you are doing as much chiseling as drilling. Once you get the first hole, and lap over the preceding hole, it goes easier. However, once you use a plunge router it goes WAY easier. :yes:
I'll use my HCM for just a few smaller ones, but for 1/2" I'll be plunging.
 

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Alan Sweet
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I use my table saw for tenons and plunge router for mortises. Make sure your table saw is tuned. Since it only takes a few minutes to check, I always check my table saw before any project, especially doing tenons. I usually have to tune my TS about 2-3 times a year. Mortises; I like using an upcut bit with a carbide cutter. I get a clean mortise. Make sure to clean out after each cut. Left over saw dust chips can cause some binding and heat build up.

I have not tried double T&Ms, but I think they will hold better when they can be used.
 
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