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  • Mortisers

    Hi All,

    I was all ready to buy a mortising kit to add to my drill press, but after reading an earlier post in this NG, I got the feeling a drill press may not be the best for making a mortise. So, I'm thinking about getting a dedicated mortising machine.

    I have seen the Delta (not sure of the model), a Craftex (BusyBee) and a King. Has anybody had experience with any of these or can you recommend one? I fear that the off brands may have lower grade chisels and would need replacing/sharpening often.


  • #2

    I don't have a dedicated mortiser, but will probably buy one this summer. While I have no specific suggestions, this review might help. It is very dated, but gives good info on what to look for and includes a paragraph on bits. It does not include any of the General International mortisers, but I like what I have seen from them and am leaning that way for my purchase. One of the things that I'm considering is a machine that clamps the wood to the back fence.

    Mortiser Review


    • #3
      Powermatic #701

      Powermatic has a new benchtop machine out that while pricey offers a number of features not found on the $200 and down models. IIRC its about $389 at Amazon.

      Technical Details:
      • Rack and Pinion Fence Operation
      • Operate from right or left side
      • 5/8 and 3/4 inch bushing sizes
      • 3/4 HP Motor
      • Integrated bit and chisel spacer, quick set up of chisel depth
      The Powermatic Model 701 benchtop deluxe mortiser is powered by a 3/4HP 115V motor that runs at 1725 RPM and has a chuck capacity of 1/2 inch. The head stroke capacity is 5 1/2 inch and the chisel center to fence is 4 3/8 inch with a chisel capacity up to 3/4 inch. There is an in line depth stop which allows you to stop at pre-set depts without racking the drill bit to the base. The heavy-duty handle is reversible and can be changed from one side to the other and does not require any special tools, great for the left handed woodworkers out there. The stock hold down features a double lock system to eliminate any slippage when removing the chisel from the work piece. The fence has a quick aciton cam lock to make positioning simple. Large hinged chuck door with magnetic catch allows you to easily access the drill chuck with the standard 4" chck key. The fence adjustment is done with by a rack and pinion system
      "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006


      1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


      • #4
        Frank, I bought a dedicated machine from Northern about three years ago. I used it for the original project, gift display cabinet, and maybe three more times. I would have been beetter off buying some more router bits. Just my opinion. Unit works well though and it was about half the cost of the Delta unit.


        • #5
          How much mortising you do should determine the machine to get.
          I have the low end delta and it does a great job. THe chisels came sharp but needed a couple of minutes of honing. I've used much more pricier machines and the thing I most liked about them were the way you could easily adjust your workpiece.
          If you only do a handful of mortises a year you may must want to use a drill and some chisels, I've done that for a ton of mortises with no problems, just takes a little longer.


          • #6

            Hi All,

            Thanks for all the replies, good food for thought. The Mortiser Review article in cjh20's post was interesting and pointed out some things I never would have thought of.

            I'm probably leaning towards a dedicated machine. I can think of a few projects that I can use it on. Besides, if you have the machine, you usually find things to use it on.



            • #7
              The Shopfox has worked very well for me. It is bigger & heavier the most bench top mortisers. Kinda like between bench top & floor model mortisers.

              Attached Files


              • #8
                The HF has worked out well for me. It runs around $99 (I think that is the regular price, but it may have been a sale price) and you combine that with a 20% off coupon, so it comes to $80 with three chisels.

                I don't use it that often that the quality of the chisels is an issue. I don't think the Delta chisels are any better. And you can always buy new chisels if it is important to you.

                If you will be using the machine on a regular basis, especially commercialy, then I would definitely invest in a much higher priced machine.

                For occasional hobby use, this fits the bill, and I believe is better than a mortise attachment to a drill press for almost the same price or more.


                • #9
                  General International has among the highest rated benchtop mortisers on the market, and it should be readily available to you in Canada. FWIW, I've got an inexpensive Central Machinery mortiser from Harbor Freight, and other than the hold down mechanism, it's really been surprisingly good...even the chisels.


                  • #10
                    DO NOT try a General Int mortiser. They are great. You will want one. They are a breeze to use, extremely quiet and do a good job.
                    You have been warned.