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Horizontal Mortiser — Reader Project

By: Phil Huber
A Woodsmith reader tackles a shop-built tool — and adds some custom touches.

Woodsmith reader Jeff Karnes wrote in to share photos of his own version of the horizontal router mortising machine.

Shop-built mortising machine

I was intrigued by the Horizontal Mortising Machine project on the cover of the recent copy of Woodsmith (Vol. 43/ No. 253) so I decided to tackle the project. The machine looks and works great, beyond my expectations. The build though did have its challenges. So when I listened to your Shopnotes Podcast (E-059) and heard you say you would like to build one also, I thought I would share my experience and possibly help you (and others) avoid some of those challenges.

mortiser back

Mortiser front view

First is the mere weight of this monster. I was thinking I could store the machine on a shelf under my bench and just lift it out when I needed it. I quickly realized that that wasn’t going to happen. I solved this challenge by mounting it on a steel stand and adding a simple caster lift mechanism from an idea I’ve used before. I then added a lower mounted on/off switch which I can tap with my knee instead of taking my hands off the “handlebars”. Just makes me feel a little safer to have both hands on the wheel and not reaching over a running machine feeling for a small on/off switch.

mobile base view

Mobile base open

I am not a huge fan of single use tools which was one reason I was drawn to this project. I already had the router motor and bits. So I also added an auxiliary table to use with my “Safety Raiser” raised panel bits. This is attached using Micro-Jig’s dovetail clamps. I also had to enlarge the opening on the face piece to accommodate the larger bits. A simple spacer block is used to limit depth of cut and the push-button nuts hold the router from moving side to side.

Panel raising table

I thoroughly enjoyed this build and what I learned from this experience. Love the mag, plans, show and now podcasts.

Published: May 17, 2021
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