How-To Guides

Mortise and Tenon joinery is fast and accurate with the PantoRouter

Mortise and Tenon joinery is fast and accurate with the PantoRouter


Mortise and Tenon - How-To Guide

Most new PantoRouter™ owners want to jump right in and mortise and tenon is the easiest joinery to start with.  Both mortise and tenon are cut using the same template and several sizes are available. 

Click here to download the Mortise and Tenon How-To Guide or read it here:

Matching mortises and tenons in minutes

With its 2-to-1 movement and 2-in-1 templates, the PantoRouter™ makes faster, better-fitting mortises and tenons than any other method. The templates are the key, capturing the guide bearing in their center slot to make the mortise, and then guiding the guide bearing around the outside for foolproof tenons too. A slanted guide surface allows incredibly fine adjustments to tenon fit, for perfect results right off the machine.

The standard package includes an array of templates for various joint sizes and orientations, the ALL-IN Package has even more, and all are available à la carte.

The genius of the system doesn’t stop at the templates. Setting up the template holder, fences and depth stop is just as fast and easy. And once they are set, you can make stacks of joints in minutes, dead-accurate and dust-free thanks to our new dust-collection attachment.

Follow the process shown here, and you’ll make better joints than ever before, in a fraction of the time. 

Setup steps

Choose your template. By changing the bit and guide bearing, you can make joints of any thickness, so all that matters here is length (the 2-to-1 pantograph ratio means joints are always half the length of a given template). All templates have tabs on the back that keep them parallel on the template holder in the template holder, and small nuts that slide into T-slots.

Center the template side to side. Put the round guide bearing in the PantoRouter’s arm and the pointed centering jig in the router chuck. Then just insert the round guide bearing into the hole in the center of the template and move the template side to side until the sharp guide bearing is aligned with the table’s centerline. Lock the template in that position and it’s centered too.

Center the template vertically. This step is even easier. Once you’ve properly set the thickness gage below the template holder (see the assembly and setup instructions for the PantoRouter), all you need to do is place a cutoff from one of your workpieces, or a workpiece itself, between the template holder and thickness gage to know you have centered the template and router on the stock. Lock the template holder in that position.

Measure the tenon piece to set the fence. Even though you’ll be mortising first, use the tenon piece here if your M&T joint will be on the end of your workpiece. Measure its width then adjust the fence to that same dimension. The ruler on the fence is half-scale, making the fence self-centering. To avoid pulling the fence out of square, always tighten the front knob first, as shown, before tightening the knob on the fence.

Mortises first

Insert the mortise guide bearing. Choose the 10mm guide bearing that fits the inside of the template, and insert it into the template slot. Also, insert the bit for the mortise you are cutting.  See the reference chart on the last page of this guide.

Clamps and clamp helpers. The standard clamps work in most situations, but for mortising, make simple clamp helpers like the one shown to get pressure where you need it. Be sure not to clamp directly over the area to be mortised, as the clamp could end up cracking the mortise wall.

Set the depth. The excellent Whiteside bits included with your PantoRouter can cut just over 2 in. deep, so that is your depth limit for mortises. Just touch the bit to the work and slide the depth stop just past the 2 in. mark. We’ll be using a 2 in. tenon in these examples, and we want a little extra room for excess glue at the bottom of the mortise.

Dust shroud goes back on. The effective and convenient dust port has a brush-style shroud that comes off easily for setup and goes back on just as quickly.

Mortising is fast and foolproof. Take shallow passes, moving the router back and forth with one hand and forward with the other, until the depth stop bottoms out. That’s it! Note the two Fence/Stops on the table that align the workpiece, and also how effective the dust collection is.

Tenons second

New guide bearing, same bit. In most cases, you’ll need a different guide bearing to make the matching tenon, but you might be able to use the same mortising bit. Check the chart at the end of this guide to be sure. Also, push the guide bearing to the back edge of the template for your first tenon attempt.

Reset the depth stop. Touch the end of the workpiece with the bit then set the depth as before. Here we want the tenon to be 2 in. long.

Safety check. Check that you’ve extended the workpiece far enough so the bit will clear the table at its full cutting depth.

Tenoning is just as fast and foolproof. Use climb cuts for a clean shoulder, working your way deeper and farther down the tenon as you go, until the bearing is riding the template and the depth stop is bottomed out.

The mechanical advantage ratio is actually 2.5:1 at the handle, so you’ll have perfect control, even though you are climb-cutting all the way.

Check the fit. The tenon could be just a bit fat at this point.

Adjustments are amazingly easy. The templates have a slightly tapered outer edge, so moving the guide bearing outward slightly adjusts the fit by a few thousandths of an inch. Once you dial in the fit, you can crank out piles of cleanly cut, dead-accurate tenons in minutes.

Multiple tenons are just as easy

For wide workpieces, combine templates. Use a square and the scale on top of the template holder to align the templates. Make sure to leave room between them for the router bit to pass through (remember the 2-to-1 scale again as you select your guide bearing and space the templates).

Make a test run. To be sure the mortises and tenons will fall in the right place, cut mortises in some scrap.

Two mortises are almost as fast as one. You just need to stop to pull the guide bearing out of the center slot of one template and put it into the other.

Two tenons in one minute. Like before, use climb cuts to make a series of shallow passes, working your way toward full depth, and adjust the guide bearing outward to dial in the fit.

Perfection. You will get perfect alignment and a perfect press-fit right off the machine. Note that the mortises are just a tad wider than the tenons. This is built into the templates, too. It doesn’t affect strength but allows the convenience of side-to-side adjustment for bringing parts flush to each other.