The Coolidge Chronicles #7: Part 1 of 2 - Assembling Shop Fox W1743 Mutant Mortiser

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Blog entry by darthford posted 11-23-2013 07:33 AM 1708 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Part 1 - Grizzly G0696X 5HP 12" Table Saw Assembly Part 7 of The Coolidge Chronicles series Part 8: Part 2 of 2 - Assembling Shop Fox W1743 Mutant Mortiser »

With the new table saw uncrated I returned my attention to assembly of the mutant mortiser before starting on that beast.

Yes mutant, here’s the Shop Fox W1743 pic in the manual, the pic on Grizzly’s website matches this. Note the short base vs the Grizzly below. Also note how the column mounts, there’s a center hub it rides on with a bolt left and right to tighten the column into position. This design has been around for a long time for tilting head machines.

Here’s the Grizzly G0448 mortiser, note the long base and different column, see how it mounts to the two L shaped brackets bolted to the base, completely different from above. Not only was the Grizzly $500 more expensive than the Shop Fox (which will make no sense to you in the next paragraph) but I decided it was a poor design. They only used 1 bolt (P see pic) in the front and 1 bolt in the rear to lock the column in place, I felt that was not sufficient, turns out I was right, keep reading.

Now here’s the actual Shop Fox machine I received, its nearly identical to the Grizzly above which costs $500 more. Long base, same L shaped brackets, besides some cosmetic upgrades on the Shop Fox the machines are nearly identical so I’m not getting the $500 premium for the Grizzly. But wait you say, didn’t I just say I didn’t like the Grizzly design? Yes, but they have changed this on the Shop Fox I received, it has 2 bolts in front and behind the column spaced a bit apart to lock it into place, 4 bolts that’s an improvement and will get the job done so I’m okay with receiving this machine plus I saved $500 vs the Grizzly woot! NOTE: This Shop Fox is listed as on “Clearance” in the Christmas catalog, though it says “NEW” on the website so who knows what’s going on. Also the manual has not been updated with this new design but the Grizzly manual will suffice since they are nearly exactly the same.

I have the super heavy duty Shop Fox mobile base with the cast iron wheels for the mortiser. First order of business replace the included Shop Fox hardware for mounting the casters. The Shop Fox hardware on the left is thin in comparison to the True Value Hardware on the right. Also the Shop Fox bolts are too short even with the thin washers, I wasn’t able to get the nut started with the lock washers in place. I replaced with 3/4” 5/16 bolts, washers and nuts. I also installed them upside down vs the instructions, nut/washers up.

Next I replaced the cast iron wheels, I could eyeball drill these more accurately than they did here plus they squeal and squeak and were already rusting.

I ordered some really nice urethane on aluminum hub 3” casters but it took the company 5 days just to ship them and they still haven’t arrived so I decided to go with these locally sourced wheels. I found these at Home Depot very reasonably priced, I got the whole thing here for what it cost me just for the wheels from the other company. I removed the wheels and installed them on the Shop Fox casters, and I’ll re-use these double locking casters with the wheels I have on order.

Here’s the mobile base assembled and the mortiser base bolted down. I used some 3/4” oak plywood and drilled through the metal pads in the mobile base bolting everything up tight as this mortiser is top heavy.

Here I have it rigged to my chain hoist in prep for lifting. Don’t let the small size fool you this thing is heavy, close to 270 pounds.

Mission accomplished!

This is bent bolt #2 on this machine, Taiwan stop embarrassing yourself (face palm)

Tomorrow I’ll take shop towels to the grease and complete the assembly.

2 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile


1356 posts in 1552 days

#1 posted 11-23-2013 12:10 PM

Again, thanks for the blog and review of the super duty base and Tiawan’s lack of quality control dept. I thoroughly enjoy seeing your super fine shop come together. I just hope, that after you’ve spent a lifetime’s fortune for some of us with Grizzly Inc., that they are reading these remarks! Is your shop intended to be a production shop producing an income or the ultimate hobbist’s man cave? No fault found, just plain curious.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View darthford's profile


532 posts in 1344 days

#2 posted 11-23-2013 04:46 PM

Thanks Handtooler. I swore one day I would have a woodworking shop NOT filled with crap warped out of square tools. I have done nice work in the past but at great cost in terms of frustration and extreme measures to compensate for the quality of tools I had.

So I’m creating my version of the ultimate hobby woodworking shop. I would say with good quality tools short of getting stupid about spending money. Hence this mortiser vs a 1600 pound knee mortiser for example.

Hobby definitely, I have a full time job already so this is my escape cave that allows me to work with my hands and craft something from raw materials which I don’t get to do in my day job. That said I would not mind selling a few pieces so 300 years from now someone can say look what this guy built 300 years ago that would be pretty cool.

As for the quality issues with these tools I realize these tools are built to a price point so I expect to be fixing some minor quality issues. I’m finding that Grizzly is often better than the much higher priced Powermatic line, at a substantially lower cost. I think Powermatic has gone backwards on quality while still asking a price premium are just cashing in on the Powermatic name which as an American kind of irks me.

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