In a post last September, entitled, "A Place for Machines," I chronicled the refurbishing of a vintage Davis & Wells boring machine that I now use to cut slot mortises. I'd be the first to say that a quiet studio is a happy studio, so I need to be very careful when adding any new equipment. As machines go, this one is very quiet. It has done a nice job of cutting small mortises, but in the near future, I will need to safely cut larger mortises. That's where the XY table comes into the picture. I've been looking for the right solution for holding and controlling the workpiece as it is passed back and forth across the larger sized cutters. I thought about making one, or having one made, but even doing much of the work myself, this quickly became a costly option. Following the advice of fellow furniture makers I decided on the following. What you see here, attached to the front of the boring machine, is an XY table made by Felder. It was designed for use with their own mortising equipment, but it adapts well to my situation. I used a drill blank mounted in the chuck along with a dial gauge to check the run-out of the cutter as well as to square-up and level the table in alignment with the cutter.
Once the tracks are properly adjusted, the two sets of linear bearings run very smoothly. Finger-tip control of the lever arm is all that is needed to safely and reliably cut a neat mortise.
With the white machine positioned against this white wall, it almost looks like the XY table is floating in air. Not to worry, it is securely mounted to the heavy cast iron body of the boring machine.
I made some sample cuts using the new XY and it works great. Setting the X-direction stops so that the table does not move side-to-side allows the table to function as a boring machine. Setting the X-direction stops to the mortise width and the Y-direction stop to the mortise depth is all that is needed to cut an accurate slot mortise. All systems go!