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Cutting a Square Hole is so much easier.

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Review by Brian024 posted 1339 days ago 7804 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Cutting a Square Hole is so much easier. Cutting a Square Hole is so much easier. Cutting a Square Hole is so much easier. Click the pictures to enlarge them

Up until now my chosen method for cutting mortises has been a router and I’ve become very tired of having to spend a good amount of time square up each one with a chisel. I bought this after seeing on Woodcraft’s site that it was on sale for $249.00 until the end of the month. This looks very similar to the Steel City, it might infact be the same just different branding.

The unit comes in roughly 2’X2’X2’ box and has 2 styrofoam trays, it weighs about 90 pounds. The base and column are made from cast iron, the headstock and fence are made from aluminum. Since the fence was made from aluminum, I was wondering if it might be warped; after I check it with a straightedge and feeler gauges it was straight. Assembly took about about 45 minutes but I usually take longer when putting tools together, it could be put together in 30 minutes, that includes cleaning the grease off of most of the parts. The instruction book is pretty weak on assembly instructions and contradict’s itself a couple times.

The machine itself adjusts and runs fairly smoothly, I haven’t used a mortiser before so it took a bit to get used to. One of the main problems I ran into was the 5/16 drill bit had a burr left on the end which once I grinded it off it cut fine. Overall very happy with this think it will speed up my mortise and tennon joinery a lot faster.




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Brian024

358 posts in 2024 days



13 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15582 posts in 1491 days


#1 posted 1337 days ago

Brian, I’d love to have one but have a list right now so I’ll have to wait a while longer, but congratulations on your new toy.

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View John Daugherty's profile

John Daugherty

33 posts in 2061 days


#2 posted 1337 days ago

Brian, I like deke have the Steel City unit. They do look exactly alike. I really like mine. I got mine used for a fairly good deal. You’ll like it.

View Viking's profile

Viking

857 posts in 1820 days


#3 posted 1336 days ago

Brian;

Great review, thanks for sharing.

I also did the research and both come from the same factory in China and are identical. I bought the Wood River and saved the $50. Downloaded the manual from Steel City and the assembly took about 25-30 minutes. Like you, all my parts were square, flat, etc. The only issue I had was that mine was missing the rubber covers on the rollers on the base that hold the work piece against the fence. Went back to my local Wood Craft and the manager (Rick), without hesitation, gave me the rubber covers from the display model.

Deke;

It is worth noting that the Steel City has a 5 year warranty while the Wood River is 1 year.

This is a great tool and I am glad I bought the dedicated machine over one that you install on your drill press.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3318 posts in 1438 days


#4 posted 1026 days ago

I have the Delta, which I have not been happy with. It works pretty well when it is not broken. The handle assembly and hub broke twice. Also – no rollers to keep the wood tight to the fence. This lets the wood rock, and makes the bit bind. It is very hard to remove the 1/2” bit from 3” leg stock, even if you make several passes to keep the bit clear.
One good thing the Delta does have is a rack and pinion fence. Does the fence adjust nicely, or does it move out of square on the Woodriver / Steel City?
Second question – what is the maximum board width you can mortise? The Delta will only handle a 4” wide board, unless you bolt on a riser block (a real pain). I would like a mortiser that handles 5-1/2 or 6”.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View WillTheEngineer's profile

WillTheEngineer

42 posts in 1513 days


#5 posted 922 days ago

Brian, John, & Viking, Any updates on pros/cons…likes/dislikes of the steel city/woodriver mortiser? I’m thinking about getting one this weekend…
Do you think it’s better than the Jet?

For the price, I think it’s a best buy..

How do you like the lever arm, does it adjust? Are the bits that come with it good enough?

Thank you

View Viking's profile

Viking

857 posts in 1820 days


#6 posted 916 days ago

Brian;

I am still very pleased with my Wood River machine and no regrets on my purchase. I have learned that if I touch up the bottom of the chisel, with sharpening stone, before I cut a few mortices the sides of the mortices need much less cleanup.

Good luck with whatever model you choose.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Brian024's profile

Brian024

358 posts in 2024 days


#7 posted 915 days ago

To respond to you guys, so far this has been a pretty good buy. Haven’t had much adjusting to do and the chisels stay pretty sharp, I do touch them up if I have cut a lot or mortises are used a harder wood. The lever arm is pretty nice gives plenty of leverage.

View Scott's profile

Scott

6 posts in 1633 days


#8 posted 843 days ago

I have just bought this one at Woodcraft in Clearwater Florida, it went on sale like 3 days later and I happened to be in there and noticed that fact, the manager Chuck had no problem refunding me the difference.

I found that the chisel bits where not as quality as the replacements, burrs and the 3/16 did not even fit in the chisel. the fence was out of square and I had to shim it. I fixed those issues , but the drill bit keeps falling out and the chuck must loosen up after a pass through the stock. Does anyone have the same problem ? If so any ideas how to fix it, i have strong hands and the chuck is tight. I am about to just not use it and go buy a Lie Neilson mortis chisel, I am building my first work bench. The cuts I have been able to make on practice pieces are nice. Having to re-set up the bits after each cut is going to suck. I have at least 54 passes to make. grrr.

View Viking's profile

Viking

857 posts in 1820 days


#9 posted 843 days ago

Scott;

Never had these issues. Mine still makes excellent mortices.

Good luck.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Scott's profile

Scott

6 posts in 1633 days


#10 posted 843 days ago

I just tried it again and really “CRANKED ” down on the chuck key , /sigh the drill bit still lossened and fell out , also even if I just run the machine and do not cut it lossens up, defective chuck?? this is horrible..

View Viking's profile

Viking

857 posts in 1820 days


#11 posted 843 days ago

Take it back to WC and get another one. WC stands behind their products.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Scott's profile

Scott

6 posts in 1633 days


#12 posted 843 days ago

perhaps I will, I used a smaller bit and it stayed in place. This workbench with it’s thick and hard maple stock is testing my machines lol, not to mention my patience, but I need a workbench to make my 5 y/o son his treasure chest..worth it..

Thanks Viking.. !

View Scott's profile

Scott

6 posts in 1633 days


#13 posted 840 days ago

This thing with the bit falling out on the 1/2 bits is really frustrating me.. WTF.. I have 2 1/2 bits and both fall out , I have no clue.. I am so sick of paying good hard earned money for shoddy equipment.. I get urine thrown at me and bit and cussed to earn my money ..not to mention save lives .. and these workers cant seem to make a semi quality piece, I DONT WANT TO HAVE to take the shit back, I should not have to.. !..

/rant off..

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