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Good Day Everyone,

I trust you are all well and having lots of sawdust in the brain. I do!!:laughing:, now I have a very important question about mortise and tendons. I would like to know if it is possible to use the router to make these without having a routing table. I have 2 routers but they are both manual free hand types. One is a complete industrial size and the other is for small usage.

I do make a lot of things that I would like to incorporate this type of joinery, but I seem to not have the technique perfected. Any assistance will greatly be appreciated.

Liz
 

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Old School
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It would be very difficult to do M&T, more specifically the mortises with a hand held router. The router would have to be fixed and/or the subject piece would have to be fixed, with guides for the router.

This can be done without a router. Using a drill press, use a drill size that matches a round tenon (dowel), it becoming a loose tenon. Square or rectangular mortises can be done with an appropriate small size drill bit for each corner and a chisel to clean out the rest. For tenons with the matching shape, cut close, and pare the tenon to fit.
 

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You can use a router for mortising. It is a quite common method. I too prefer a drill press but if you do not have one, or if the piece is too long for the press, the router can be used efficiently once you get the knack of it.

The use of a plunge router will speed up the process and use small progresive depths of cuts when doing so. The use of edge guides is essential obviously and saftey stops are also a good idea so the bit doesn't take off on you and cause you to go past your cut lines.

If you have ever used an edge guide with a router for any reason, the principal is the exact same, except you just need to make sure you have a good base clamped around the piece's end, for the router's stability.

One thing the router can do more efficiently than anything is to allow you to set it up horizontally for very long pieces like bed rails or long table stretchers.

Of course for the most part, the preffered method is a mortise machine but you gotta use what you got available eh? And if a router is what you have then by all means use it. It will work fine.
 

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flatiron
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you can use a router to do mortices & tentones with a board on each side of your piece and do it free hand. texas timbers had it right. the quickest way is with a mortice chisel to cut your mortice and a saw for your tendons. then plane your tenton to fit. no dust & no noise
 

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Keep in mind that safety first is a big consideration. Freehand router use can be very dangerous. One of the two items (stock, or router) should be secured. With freehand use, your hand or hands are holding the router. If for some reason there is a catch, the situation can go bad instantly.

If nothing else, mount your router in any kind of top and make yourself a fence. Mounting the router horizontally will enable you to do plunge type procedures more safely than freehand.
 

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You are right. Safety first!

Freehand router use is a necessary evil often, and should not be attempted by someone unaware of the potential hazards. Safety glasses, as always, are absolutely essential, as are thick but tight fitting gloves IMO, provided the gloves do not hinder the use of the tool.

When making mortise cuts with a freehand router, it is also essential to, as I mentioned, make light passes and be sure to keep downward pressure on the router so the base, or the collar if that's what you are using as a guide, does not jump out of the confines of the guides you have clamped.

thanks for the safety reminder cabinetman.
 

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Free hand routing....just the thought gives me the willies...
I would have the router fixed somehow and preferably on a router table....a drill press rig makes decent mortises...but a dedicated mortiser is best for the control and safety it affords....plus the square chisels make a nice clean mortise....defintely would NOY freehand I value my hands too highly...
 

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flatiron
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free hand routing

If you use the right set up, a up sprial bit in you router to cut mortices and start with a shallow cut followed by setting the bit down a little at a time it is not unsafe. to cut tentons use a router table. cutting progressivley deeper is not a challange. It is done this way by a lot of furniture makers check out fine wood working webb sight. do not try to cut tentons with out a router. didnt mean to be miss leading
 

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flatiron
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free hand

I left out router table for tentons!!!!!!!!!!!!!use a router table foe tentons. I built a box with a router running horizontal to cut tentons, or I use a back saw.
 

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I use a Makita plunge router quite often to cut my Mortises, it's quick, and clean cutting (using an up-spiral carbide bit). Freehand? Never. I built a u-shaped jig about 24" long to hold the pieces and a fence on the router to guide. The jig is nothing more than plywood open topped box and then I use scrap wood to fill in the extra space and a couple of wooden wedges to hold everything into place while I do the routing. I'll try to get some pictures taken and uploaded for everyone to see.

The only problem I see with using a router to cut the mortises is, the round ends which either need to be squared up with a chisel or the tenon needs to be rounded off to fit appropriately. I've done them both ways. Typically it is believed that rounded tenons do not possess as much strength as squared tenons.:yes:

By the way, this method is easy enough for my high school students to pick up pretty fast.
 
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