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Budget floating tenon jigs

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  • Budget floating tenon jigs

    The next project my wife has lined up for me is a bed. And a king size bed is a bit on the large side to dado the tenons. I watched the woodwhisperer video on his bed and the domino. And now I'm sold. That thing really is magical in how fast and accurate it can produce a perfect mortise.

    Expect that price tag. As much as I love the equipment I've spent good money on, I'm not ready to drop that kind of money on the domino xl. It's great for the guys who earn their money by how fast they make joints, but I do this for fun, and that is way beyond my level. I'll more than gladly keep making my traditional mortise and tenons joints when I'm capable of doing it.

    I'd like to be able to cut mortises for floating tenons like that however. Maybe some sort of jig for a plunge router that'll get me close to the domino with some extra setup work (fine by me, it's a hobby, not time wasted that isn't making me money). The closest I've seen is the beadlock system. I'm thinking of something that lets me clamp onto a board, let's me either swap out inserts for the mortise width or I have an adjustment for how wide I'm making my mortises. Is there something that gets close like that, or should I just go buy a beadlock?

  • #2
    For a one off project, I’d probably do the floating tenons with a plunge router (I have two) and a shop built jig.
    Jim Frye
    The Nut in the Cellar.


    • #3
      Far be it from me to discourage a tool purchase, but unless you plan on doing hundreds of mortises stick with the router and a jig. That was the method I used for years. When I needed to do nearly 100 mortises for a deck rail project and then even more for bookcases and kitchen cabinets for the house, I pulled the trigger on the Domino 500. It is a splendid tool if you can justify it.

      On the other hand if you have tons of cash laying around the house , Go for it.

      An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
      A moral man does it.


      • #4
        If I had the cash for it right now, I'd probably be at woodcraft buying myself a lathe and associated tools. I'm not making money in my shop so saving a little time on mortises isn't killer at all. My backup plan for this is a shopbuilt jig as Jim suggested but I'd like to keep the number of one-off jigs to a minimum, hence looking for an adjustable jig. It'll be nicer than having a few extra jigs on the shelf I might not use again but can't bring myself to get rid of.


        • #5
          The Domino machines are really amazing. The cost is staggering though. I have the Domino 500, and it is sized well for my needs. 10mm dominoes are it’s maximum. The XL os built for larger projects.... like the bed frame, which I seldom build any more. Before I got the Domino 500 I used a 1/4” router bit in a router lift table on my table saw to cut mortises in table legs and the aprons. I made my own 1/4” tenons for a floating tennon connection. It worked well but required a lot of large clamps.


          • #6
            Rethink my previous reply!
            I would rethink building a bed frame with mortise and tennon / dominos construction. It will be difficult if not impossible to move. I recommend bed frame hardware from sources like Rockler, Woodcraft, Hightland Woodworking etc.


            • #7
              I'm going to use the traditional bed bolt hardware on the sides, but I've found it works better if it's holding a mortise and tenon on place instead of a butt joint.


              • #8
                Agreed, bolt hardware. If you don’t want to mess with mortise and tendons you could use a couple of 3/4” dowels drilled through the back of the headboard leg.


                • #9
                  Well, I think I've found what I'm looking for. MLCS has a horizontal router table with a mortising x-y table attachment. It'll let me use stop blocks to be precise with mortise size between workpieces and will be a whole lot easier for a lot of work than bringing the plunge router to the workpiece. Now to sell the wife on it.

                  edit- I also see I can get a knockoff of the mortise pal from AliExpress. If it wasn't a month plus wait to get it I'd probably order it right now. Shame that tool is discontinued.
                  Last edited by mm1992; 02-12-2020, 03:25 PM.