Use the drill press as a mortiser

Mortising on the drill press without attachment

To make mortises to make wood joints mortise and tenon we have several options, from using a mortising machine, to using the milling machine to the most artisan of making boxes or mortises by hand with chisel or chisel. But in this post we are going to see how to use the drill as a home mortiser to make mortises in a very simple way. I just need the drill press and its table with defense to support the workpiece I want to make the box on.

This is not a woodworking technique to use continuously, as the drill press may suffer a little, but it does come in handy every now and then to make a quick mortise in a piece of wood, when I don't want to work hard or prepare the router.

Mark where to make the box and dowel joint

The first thing I have to do is decide in which position I want to make the mortise and tenon joint.


Mark the length of the box equal to the spike

And after make the wooden dowel, I have to mark the height of the dowel on the piece of wood in which I want to make the box. So I have the length of the box that I need to cut.

Mark the center of the face with the pencil

Now, with the help of a marking gauge I mark the center of the wood. I could also measure the width and mark the center, but with the marking gauge I can mark from both sides of the piece and thus I realize if I am marking exactly in the center or not.

Drill overlapping hole with the column drill

So now I will use the drill press as an improvised mortiser to make the mortise between the marks I have just made. The drill bit that I am going to use has a diameter equal to the thickness of the tenon, since when making the tenon I made sure that the thickness of the tenon was equal to the diameter of that drill bit. Now I just have to adjust the fence of the drill press table so that the tip of the bit coincides just in the center line that I made with the marking gauge. And I block the fence in that position. This way I can drill overlapping holes between the lines that mark the length of the mortise.

Bit tip marks

In this case I want to make a through mortise and tenon joint, in which the tenon goes completely through the wood. But as we can see in the image, the vertical movement of this drill press is not deep enough, so the drill bit cannot go completely through the wood and protrude the other side. But I could solve it by turning the workpiece upside down and drilling directly into those marks that were left by the tip of the drill bit in this face of the workpiece.

Move the wood to the sides to clean the mortise

Now using the drill press As a home mortiser, I move the workpiece to the sides to clean the wood left between the overlapping holes I made. This involves inserting the bit a bit, moving the piece to the sides to remove the wood, inserting the bit a bit and moving the piece back to the sides. I lower just a little at a time so as not to force the drill too much when moving the wood sideways.

Use the drill press as a mortiser

And so on until I can no longer lower the bit. And since the bit does not reach the other side of the workpiece, I have to rotate the workpiece and perform the same technique from the other side of the piece until I have a perfect mortise that go through the wood from side to side.

Cut the corners of the box with a chisel

Now I have two options, either round the corners of the wooden tenon, or cut square the corners of the mortise I have just made. In this case I will use a chisel to cut square the corners of the mortise so I can fit the wooden tenon that has 90 degrees corners.

Cut corners to fit wooden dowel

Then, with the help of a wooden mallet, I cut the corners to finish shaping the mortise in which the tenon will enter to make the wooden joint.

Mortise and tenon junction box

Here I have the rectangular mortise, with the corners that I have just cut at 90 degrees with the chisel.

Now I can fit the wooden tenon to make this mortise and tenon joint. And in this case I have a through mortise and tenon T-joint where we see the head of the tenon on the other side. So I can get an idea of ​​how tight I made this joint. And although it was not perfect, it is sure that once I apply glue it will be very resistant.


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4 comments on "Column drill as a homemade mortiser"

  1. Jose Luis Saez Dominguez

    I would like to leave the measures well defined, the projects are very good, but I notice some lack of information about the types of wood and especially the measures, I know that they are said at first, but they do not agree with the photos in the video, they seem much larger than the measurements it gives

    1. Enredando No Garaxe

      I try to make my projects easy to adapt to the needs and tools that each one has without the need for specific measures. a greeting

  2. Jorge Morales, Chile.

    Thank you Sergio for your teachings, always clear and precise. When applying glue, the spikes adjust. Do not forget to use presses to make it more compact.
    In some occasions one has to put the measures according to the work to be done. Thanks again, and waiting for new materials. Greetings

    1. Enredando No Garaxe

      Thanks for your comment Jorge. Yes, I do not like to give many measurements, but I prefer to explain what I do so that each one adapts it as needed. a greeting

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