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The Coolidge Chronicles #2: Which Mortising Machine? - Grizzly G0448, Shop Fox W1743, Powermatic 719T

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Blog entry by darthford posted 275 days ago 1476 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Part 1 - Assembling Grizzly G0490 8" Jointer with Byrd Shelix Cutter Head Part 2 of The Coolidge Chronicles series Part 3: Part 2 - Assembling Grizzly G0490 8" Jointer with Byrd Shelix Cutter Head »

I still have a jointer and band saw to assemble so naturally I’m already on the hunt for yet another machine lol. I like Mission, Shaker, Craftsman style furniture so I’m gearing up for square mortise and tenon work. I already have the Grizzly tenoning table saw jig so next up is a mortising machine and I have it narrowed down to these three,

Grizzly G0448 $1,495

Shop Fox W1743 $995

Powermatic 719T $1,275

I’m currently undecided after the first round of research. There are not a lot of reviews out there for any of these machines. Each has its pro’s and con’s.

Shop Fox vs Grizzly – The Shop Fox is the price winner, currently its on sale for $50 off and its a whopping $500 less than the Grizzly. Much of the two machines is ‘exactly’ the same, same motor same HP same fence, table, dimensions, table travels, etc. all the same. Where there are some minor differences these seem to be an upgrade on the Shop Fox so why is the Grizzly $500 more? I found the answer in the PDF manuals.

The Grizzly is advertised as “heavy duty” and while these machines appear exact clones from the front they are in fact significantly different from the side and back. The Grizzly has an extended base to the rear and the column mounts to the base entirely different from the Shop Fox. The Grizzly does appear more heavy duty, but is the added beef needed and is it worth another $500 that’s the question.

Here you can see the extended rear base on the Grizzly.

Here is the Shop Fox, the column floats in thin air.

Here’s a detail shot of the Grizzly

So advantage Grizzly as far as rigidity and stability go. Not sure its $500 worth but I tend to work hardwoods so its a consideration. The Grizzly also support a slightly larger mortise vs the Shop Fox.

Now the Powermatic, this machine is an entirely different beast. The Grizzly/Shop Fox columns tilt which can be problematic. That’s a lot of weight if you throw it over 30 degrees you best have the machine bolted to the floor and even then it seems to me it would be awkward to operate when titled. I also question the stability even with bolting it to the floor when tilted to the right. Plus I’m not too crazy about drilling holes into my brand new concrete garage floor.

The Powermatic on the other hand has a stationary column that never moves. I like that, trying to dial in one of these tilting columns can be a real pain even with a stop, just tightening up the bolts can pull it off square a few degrees so naturally once you get it set then you tend to avoid the tilt feature altogether so as not to have to dial it back in square again. The Powermatic has a tilting table, I like that you always pull the handle straight down no matter the angle. From the look of the machine I think the table would be solid enough when flat, I am less confident it how rigid it would be with the table tilted and just those thin steel arms holding it up. Advantage Grizzly/Shop Fox for iron rigidity. If its not rock solid stable when tilted then its probably a useless feature imo.

Several pro’s and cons with the Powermatic, the column itself is much smaller than the Grizzly or Shop Fox, But the way it bolts down its probably as rigid or more so than the Grizzly. The Powermatic table however is significantly smaller, 7 inches deep vs 12 inches for the Grizzly and Shop Fox and far less rigid. Oddly there is more table travel on the Powermatic, 4 inches of front/rear travel and 15 inches of side to side travel vs only 3 inches of front/rear travel and 14 inches of side to side travel on the Grizzly and Shop Fox. I’m more concerned with the 3 inches of travel, if I put my machinist hat on that seems limited but I suppose for woodworking its not a big deal.

Finally the Powermatic is 1HP vs 1.5 HP for the Grizzly and Shop Fox. The front clamp on the Powermatic seems to just clamp horizontally to the fence where the Grizzly and Shop Fox clamps hold the work piece both against the fence and down onto the table. The Powermatic base and cabinet is quite a bit smaller and there are no tangs to bolt it down to the floor or a mobile base.

Summary – So its a mixed bag, the Grizzly is the heaviest, most rigid, with the largest capacity. The Shop Fox is the least expensive. The Powermatic has a rigid column, no tip over issues as it has a tilt table vs a tilt column, I’d say is the lightest duty though.

Comments/suggestions?

FINAL!

Shop Fox W1743 WINNER!! Is the Shop Fox as heavy duty as the Grizzly, that was the question. Up to its rated 1” chisel I could make a case that perhaps it is, see the Grizzly notes below. The Grizzly is rated to a 1.5” chisel, okay but am I really going to use the Grizzly with a 1.5” chisel or would I use a much heavier knee style mortising machine? Never mind I have been all over the internet shopping chisels and couldn’t even find one larger than 1”. The Shop Fox which is on sale is $500 less than the Grizzly and $280 less than the Powermatic. With savings like that I could buy 7 premium made in Japan chisels for $311.

On a side note the Shop Fox manual lists the table cross travel at 5”, in the pictures it appears that it will travel about that amount though chisel to fence is about the 3” maximum noted in the specs sheet. The added travel would let you move the table out towards the operator I’m guessing for loading stock.

Grizzly G0448 - I was having a tough time choking down the $500 premium for the Grizzly over the Shop Fox since so much of the machine was exactly the same. If anything the Shop Fox is appointed a bit nicer. With a set of chisels $311 shipping $99 lift gate $35 and sales tax the Grizzly package was nearly $2,100.

At first glance the Grizzly has more iron beef but in studying the schematic further I noticed there are only 2 bolts holding the column in place vs 3 bolts for the Shop Fox. The Grizzy just has a pin at the bottom, I would have preferred a bolt there since that’s where it will pivot under load. That took the wind out of my argument to pay more for more rigidity. As I mentioned above the added chisel capacity is probably not in play, that left only the longer base and that’s not worth $500 to me.

Powermatic 719T - I tried to like this machine for several days but the fact is, its smaller in most every way. I also didn’t like the way the table tilted on those two thin strips of steel, if that had been beefier I may have taken a longer look at the machine. It didn’t help that when I recently researched the Powermatic jointer and found I really wasn’t getting more for the huge premium in price I would be paying.

So there you have it, I checked with Grizzly and they have both the Shop Fox and chisels in stock ready to ship so I’ll place my order tomorrow!



7 comments so far

View Woodmaster1's profile

Woodmaster1

454 posts in 1192 days


#1 posted 275 days ago

Check Baileigh woodworking out. 1hp, 267lbs and on sale for 675.00. They have tilting table version for 875.00 and it weighs 350lbs.

View jonah's profile

jonah

442 posts in 1904 days


#2 posted 275 days ago

The horsepower won’t matter at all on a mortising machine. All that’s doing is spinning a drill bit. You supply all the downward force.

1HP is plenty. I wouldn’t choose one or the other for horsepower. Choose based on how easy or difficult it is to clamp, release, and move the workpiece, since that’s what you do most often with those things. Picture creating a 3/8” by 1” mortise. You plunge at one end then need to move the piece to the side several times to finish the cut. Check out the ergonomics of how that happens – that’s the most important factor in choosing.

View darthford's profile

darthford

532 posts in 529 days


#3 posted 275 days ago

The Baileigh MC-1000TT has some interesting features the other machines don’t have. I like the front/rear tilting table. I like the hold down cam clamps. I like that the tilting column is on a gear vs the others are not. However I just spoke with Baileigh and the things I don’t like are the plastic parts. The hand wheels are plastic. It looks like the end stops are plastic. Replace the plastic with metal and I might have pulled the trigger on this on the spot. Its also made in China vs the others are made in Taiwan, I’m not saying anything against the Baileigh specifically and its priced appropriately for its origin but ‘typically’ Taiwan quality is better than the China quality. So its in the running but would be a leap of faith since there is next to no information on this tool on the web.

View Bigrock's profile

Bigrock

233 posts in 1567 days


#4 posted 275 days ago

Hi:
I have used several different Mortise machines both bench top and stationary over the years. I also build a lot of Craftsman style furniture, and just completed a Bow Arm Morris Chair & Foot Stool with 70 plus mortises. .If I was going to buy one today it would be the Powermatic stationary mortise machine.
Good luck on your choice.

View darthford's profile

darthford

532 posts in 529 days


#5 posted 275 days ago

That’s good feedback Bigrock, can you tell me your top 2-3 reasons why you would go with the Powermatic and what mortise machine you are currently using?

View Bigrock's profile

Bigrock

233 posts in 1567 days


#6 posted 274 days ago

Hi:
I like the weight of that machine. The weight helps make it stable on 1/2” mortise cuts. I am not sure but I think you can do 3/4” Mortises with this machine.
I like how well it moves left and right.
It is very easy to adjust height and depth of cut.
The ways of the machine stay straight.
The work piece clamp is large and you can add a secondary piece of wood to make the clamp longer or wider.
I like the working height of the machine.
Currently I have to use a bench top machine because of space, but a good friend two blocks away has Powermatic stationary which I use most of the time. When I get a little more space that is what I will buy.
For me I would stay away from a Shop Fox. I don’t think they have got there quality up to very high standards.
I don’t know anything about the Baileigh machine.
I hope that helps.

View darthford's profile

darthford

532 posts in 529 days


#7 posted 273 days ago

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