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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Folks,

It's been a while since I last checked into Wood Forum. I have started a new project building a sofa table and have some questions about the joinery. The legs and stretchers will be made from cherry with mortises and tenons. I'm drilling my tenons with a drill press and as a test I used a 3/8 inch straight router bit in the drill press. The only problems I ran into was that it was a little jerky and rough but with some extra clamping and care, I managed to make some decent 3 inch long slot. Overall however, it was a pretty sloppy process and I'm wondering if there's a better way using my drill press.

A couple details. The legs and the stretchers are cherry. The legs are 1 3/4 inches square, the stretchers are 7/8 inches wide. My mortises are about 3/8 wide inches x 3/4 inches deep.

So looking at what's out there I'm seeing upcut spiral and downcut spiral router bits, hinge mortising bits, etc, etc. In the woodworking class where I'm trying to learn this stuff, I think the setup was some sort of spiral bit in the drill press. Needles to say, I'm a little confused and overwhelmed..

My question is, which of these would work best with my 139 dollar Craftsman drill press for what I'm doing? These won't be through mortises (if that's the right term)

I welcome any and all suggestions and on drill press mortising and what bits and /or hardware and technique you might recommend.

Thanks so much.

Greg

Picture of my table design is attached
 

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Using router bits in a drill press is not the way to go. Router bits will not spin fast enough in a drill press to properly cut and they can be prone to breaking if you put a lot of lateral pressure on them trying to force them to cut.

What you need is a forstner drill bit to remove most of the waste in your mortise then clean the edges and square the corners with a chisel. Using a fence and clamps to hold your work will greatly increase accuracy, safety and speed.
 

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Another inexpensive solution is the Beadlock. I saw it at Rockler and it looks pretty slick. It is designed to cut mortises that accept floating tenons. It is essentially a jig for your hand held drill that allows you to drill overlapping holes to create a scalloped mortise that is sized and shaped to receive their floating tenons. However, they also advertise that after using you drill, the jig can be left in place and used to guide a chisel to square up the sides for a traditional tenon.
 

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where's my table saw?
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drill press mortising attachment is best

If you must use a drill press then the mortising attachment would be good, however your drill press is pretty small and may not accept one. There's quite a few to choose from and they get expensive:
Amazon.com: Anytime Tools 18 pcs DRILL PRESS WOOD MORTISING ATTACHMENT KIT and CHISELS (4 sizes): Home Improvement


Here's a better solution IF you have a router:
Amazon.com: Rockler Mortise Centering Router Base: Home Improvement

It self centers the bit on any width stock if you "crank" over the base to ride on the 2 pins. You must keep it in contact with the piece on both side to keep it centered.
 
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I think your drill press may be underpowered for a mortise attachment.

I purchased a mortise attachment for my bench drill press and was not able to get this to work. The handles on a drill press are short so not as much leverage. My table flexed too much.

Another reply mentioned floating tenons, which are easy to drill.

A cheap solution is to use the drill press to make a series of holes and clean up the mortise with a hand chisel. I have used this solution. Does not take long.

A corner chisel speeds up the work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Using router bits in a drill press is not the way to go. Router bits will not spin fast enough in a drill press to properly cut and they can be prone to breaking if you put a lot of lateral pressure on them trying to force them to cut.

What you need is a forstner drill bit to remove most of the waste in your mortise then clean the edges and square the corners with a chisel. Using a fence and clamps to hold your work will greatly increase accuracy, safety and speed.
The router bits I played with had 1/2 shanks if that makes a difference. They did work (believe it or not) on my drill press but seemed like a clumsy solution; that's why I was asking about other hardware and methods.

I did try a forstner bit but had a little trouble with the wood burning. I slowed the speed down and that seemed to fix the problem.

As you can tell, I'm a bit of a novice at woodworking. I take an adult evening class in the shop of a High School near me. The teacher demonstrated mortising using a drill press and a mortising bit. I can't say if it was a drill bit per se. I actually think it was a 1/4 inch spiral bit of some type. Could it have been a router bit? It looked like the attached.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Everybody.

I'm hoping to have the mortises done for the next class which is in 3 days. Not enough time time get a router guide. Also, my router, a Skil, sucks. It slips, it's imprecise and the router guide for it (which I would have to buy) is cheesy plastic. I'm going to my $$ to get a better router better down the road.

The Beadlock and floating tenons looks like a way to go. I'll seriously consider that for the next project. Mortising attachments, a no-go given my small drill press and keeping in mind woodnthing's advice.

In the mean time, I should work with the tools I have. I'll try Dave_Paine's advice for now (drilling and chiseling). Got to get a corner chisel; or, I can wait till Monday's class and use their setup although the biggest bit the teacher had was 1/4 inch.

Thanks again all. I'll report back.

Greg
 

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no need to buy a new base

Hi Everybody.

I'm hoping to have the mortises done for the next class which is in 3 days. Not enough time time get a router guide. Also, my router, a Skil, sucks. It slips, it's imprecise and the router guide for it (which I would have to buy) is cheesy plastic. I'm going to my $$ to get a better router better down the road.


Thanks again all. I'll report back.

Greg
Just drill two holes on the centerline of the bit about 1" or so from the center, insert 2 round bolts or pins and it will self center every time when you crank it over. Couldn't be easier or cheaper.


Another basic method is a self centering doweling jig, cheap also:
http://www.harborfreight.com/self-centering-doweling-jig-41345.html
Has inserts for various size drills.
 
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I've always used my forstner bits and a dovetail saw for the tenon. If you're looking for a way to make cutting the mortise easier I have recently tried taking the corners off the tenon with a rabbet plane as apposed to cutting out the corners of the mortise. I did a lot of reading about mortising band saw attachments, and the majority opinion seems to be pretty negative so I just invested in chisels.
 

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Huh?

I've always used my forstner bits and a dovetail saw for the tenon. If you're looking for a way to make cutting the mortise easier I have recently tried taking the corners off the tenon with a rabbet plane as apposed to cutting out the corners of the mortise. I did a lot of reading about mortising band saw attachments, and the majority opinion seems to be pretty negative so I just invested in chisels.
You mean drill press attachments....don't you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Use a Forster bit and clean up with a good sharp chisel....that's how I do them...
You know, I ran some tests using a 1/4 inch Forstner bit; (cheap Ryobi brand). There must have been some flexion in the bit as the holes didn't line up perfectly. I probably need a higher quality bit. So far, my best result has been with spiral bit. Still don't have a decent router so i'm trying to make the drill press work.
 

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gthec said:
You know, I ran some tests using a 1/4 inch Forstner bit; (cheap Ryobi brand). There must have been some flexion in the bit as the holes didn't line up perfectly. I probably need a higher quality bit. So far, my best result has been with spiral bit (using the drill press)
I have never tried a spiral bit, but may try one.
 

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rereading again.....maybe i misunderstood.....

Either way...that router bit is designed to work at 15000+ rpm
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
ryan50hrl said:
rereading again.....maybe i misunderstood.....

Either way...that router bit is designed to work at 15000+ rpm
Right. It is a router bit but the 1/4 inchh worked quite well in the drill press. Ultimately, I was trying to figure out what would work best in my drill press and I'm still reconciling the advice I'm getting on his message board, running some tests, etc.

Thanks.

Greg
 
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