Although routers were originally designed to create moulded shapes, they can be excellent joinery tools. In fact, they’re better in some ways than table saws, professional quality mortisers or dado cutters when it comes to cutting joints. There are several reasons routers have an advantage:
• Simplicity: Setting up hand-held or table-mounted routers is rather straightforward. Tools dedicated to joint-making such as hollow-chisel mortisers are more complex and require more time to set up. Sure, it could be worth the effort to use a mortiser if you’re planning to make dozens of duplicate joints. But if all you want to cut are a few mortises and tenons, for example, a router will save you loads of time.
• Versatility: You can make a greater variety of joints with a router than with any other joinery tool. No matter if you have a fixed-base or plunge router, you can cut more types of joints than with any other kind of tool.
• Accuracy: There isn’t a more precise joinery tool. You may find tools just as accurate, but none that surpass the router. Because routers cut quickly, they leave a smooth surface, meaning joints fit better and bonds are stronger.
There are some disadvantages to using your router for joint-making, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them:
• Most routers won’t stand up to continual cutting as well as heavy-duty woodworking machinery.
• Because you can’t make deep cuts in a single pass on a router, it may take you longer to rout some joints than it would to use a mortiser or dado cutter.
• Depending on the joint you want to make, you may be limited by the sizes and configurations of available bits.
These shortcomings, however, are minor. Routers are indispensable joinery tools in any workshop.
This jig will evenly space notches as you cut them, allowing you to make perfect finger joints. It’s designed to mount on any miter gauge and will work great on your router table (or, if you’re so inclined, you also can use it on your table saw).
Make the face and the mount from cabinet-grade plywood and the stop from hardwood. If you wish, you can make several different faces, each with a different-sized stop. This will enable you to cut different sizes of finger joints.
To use the jig, screw or bolt the mount to a miter gauge. Loosen the wing nuts that secure the face to the mount and slide the face sideways until the stop is the proper distance away from the bit. When the stop is positioned properly, tighten the wing nuts.
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