Mortiser Falls Short on Key Features

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Review by pintodeluxe posted 10-29-2011 01:21 AM 3363 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Mortiser Falls Short on Key Features No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

When I first got this it was the best thing since fancy cut pickles. Since then (5 tables, 8 chairs and and an entertainment center later), I have had the chisel stuck in my workpiece more times than I can count. I can tell you why… it has no roller wheels or clamps to hold the workpiece tight against the fence. Thus when you try to remove the bit, it rocks the workpiece and binds the bit.

Problem #2 : The hold down clamp rod does flex quite a bit. I think this could be solved with roller wheels mentioned above.

Problem#3 : Poor quality castings of the hub and handle gear assembly. I specifically bought this because it was made in China. That’s where all the qulity pot metal comes from right?
This assembly broke on me twice. $50-60 in parts each time.

Problem #4 : Power switch failed. More parts to buy.

Problem # 5 : Plastic knobs stripped out. More parts.

Problem #6 : You can only fit a 4-1/4” wide board under the 1/2” chisel. Riser block is a joke. If Delta had made the head assembly a couple inches taller, I could mortise a 6” wide board.

The following problems are common to all mortisers I have seen…
Problem #7 : No squaring index on the bit!!! Unbelievable. My electric toothbrush has that feature.
Are you listening Delta, Jet, Powermatic, Steel City? We want self squaring bits! Were not frickin’ cutting diamonds here, we are cutting squares!

Problem #8 : The bit holder faces the bits business-end up. This is dangerous, and it should come with caps or a folding lid.

Problem #9 : Not much stock support. It looks like the Steel City / Woodriver mortiser has solved that issue with integrated slide-out work supports.

What do I like about it? Other than when it binds, the motor seems to have adequate power. The fence is rack and pinion which is a nice touch. However, when you install the riser block it bypasses the rack and pinion, and binds the fence rail in a tight groove making fence adjustment nearly impossible.
Good access to the chuck. I would have given it 2-1/2 stars if that were an option.

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

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3359 posts in 1466 days

10 comments so far

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8476 posts in 2301 days

#1 posted 10-29-2011 03:14 AM

thanks for the review – sounds like you’ve had a full experience with the unit for better for worse. could use more reviews like this around here.

curious – just as an idea. how feasible would it be to take the mortiser (head+column) and install it on a shopmade table bypassing the metal base all together which will allow you to build a table with better support (larger area) + better clearance height wise (for 6” boards) and better holddowns+wheels +accessories?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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3359 posts in 1466 days

#2 posted 10-29-2011 03:28 AM

I don’t think it would be feasible for me to remount it. I did think about adding some Magswitch roller supports, but for the price I would just replace the unit with a Woodriver mortiser. I like the roller suports and expandable work supports on that model.

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

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59 posts in 1600 days

#3 posted 10-29-2011 05:23 AM

I bought my last Delta tool 3 years ago. I got tired of the power switch’s going out. I like the Woodriver mortiser best.

-- It has been deemed bad for you hence there for it is illegal.

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6192 posts in 1453 days

#4 posted 10-29-2011 03:15 PM

I looked at the Delta. Then I went and spent $200 less on the Harbor Freight version. It may look like a piece of junk, but with a couple of homemade upgrades it is at least as good as the Delta.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at:

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1622 days

#5 posted 10-30-2011 01:16 AM

The only redeeming quality of my own bench top mortiser is it fits under the bench when not in use (50 weeks of the year). Unfortunately, bench top mortisers all have the same flaws. You can’t compare them to a floor standing trade rated machine for hold down, travel etc. I ended up taking the back fence and hold down off mine altogether, and use a 2×2 held with g-cramps for the fence, and cramp the workpiece to that for the first cut. The chisel won’t bind if you take a shallow cut first, then move along, cut same depth, move it back and go deeper, then repeat until you are at the right depth. Then you can take out the rest of the mortise, simply holding the workpiece down with your free hand. That way the chisel is only in contact on three sides and it’s not as hard for it to come out.
With regard to support, simply measure the base height and plane down pieces of timber to the same height and put them either side of the base, or use roller stands.

Just noticed your signature – saw Rush at their very first Dublin gig in May, awesome.

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Arlin Eastman

2043 posts in 1214 days

#6 posted 10-30-2011 05:56 AM

Well I guess I bought mine before I read this. It was brand new and the guy never took it out of the box that I could tell. I paid him $100 which included shipping. This is my first mortiser and did not know what to expect, but thinking that Delta made a good product.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

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3359 posts in 1466 days

#7 posted 10-30-2011 10:17 PM

Renners –
I see what you mean about plunging a shallow cut, continuing to the next cut, then returning later to achieve full depth. That seems like it could introduce errors in the cutline. I really expect more from a benchtop mortiser. The solution is simple – get a model with roller wheels. The stock has to be held down and into the fence to avoid binding.

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

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1504 posts in 1346 days

#8 posted 11-01-2011 03:23 PM

Well-timed review.. I’m looking at getting a mortiser in the next couple months. The Woodriver looks nice and has a lot of chisel/bit sets for $239 right now, but there’s a Jet I’m eyeing on CL for $200 (negotiable price)... I’ve already mentally thrown out the Deltas now.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

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5 posts in 498 days

#9 posted 05-11-2013 02:13 AM

My Delta has had more than enough issues. I still use it but all of the tighteners have broken and have since replaced them with different knobs or vice grips. The cast pieces that the handle attaches to the machine with have broken and were replaced while under warranty. The down action is not smooth at all. It somehow has a catch own the middle as I force it down into the wood. You have to place the drill a good bit below the chisel end, so be careful you do not poke through the other side (it has happened). Like I said I still use it but I have learned my lesson. I have had this machine for over 6 or so years and many great projects were made from it.

-- john, south carolina

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3359 posts in 1466 days

#10 posted 05-11-2013 04:20 AM

Well, the mortiser has performed admirably on the last dozen projects. The bits don’t stick much anymore, and the mortises are accurate. Maybe it just needed to be broken in. Perhaps I was too harsh with my initial review.

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

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