Mortising the “easy” way

Remember the 28 alder doors I had to make? Well, actually it was 25 alder doors and three cedar doors. At any rate, I used a cope and stick set to shape the stiles and rails but I wanted to use some large tenons as well since these are 34″ wide, 8’ tall doors. I decided the simplest way was to use floating tenons. With three rails per door, that meant a total of 336 3″ deep mortises with lengths varying from 4 to 8 inches, depending on the rail location.

Not too long ago, this would have been a no-brainer. I would have dropped $1,200 on a “mid range” horizontal mortiser without even giving it a second thought.

But with times being what they are, I am trying to squeeze every penny out of my jobs so I decided that I would to this the easy way. Out came my trusty 2.5-hp Elu router, my shop-made ball bearing centering base, and a 1/2” x 3-1/2″ stagger tooth straight bit. Piece of cake. Only took me a week.

I only had to take the router apart to clean and lube the plunge mechanism a couple of times a day. Oh, and also, my shoulders, arms and hands were ruined for the next two weeks. But I got all of the mortises milled. Amazingly, the router did not melt and I “saved” that $1,200!

Man, I hate it when times get tough! Next time I’m just going to say the heck with it and buy the machine!

D.D.

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