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powermatic PM-701, works great for me

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Review by kennymac posted 03-29-2016 02:39 PM 7647 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
powermatic PM-701, works great for me powermatic PM-701, works great for me powermatic PM-701, works great for me Click the pictures to enlarge them

Here’s my very first review, it’s about time I started giving back on this site. I’m building a four drawer chest that I’m working on through the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop. Actually I’m building two chests, one in the class and the other one is a copy I’m making at home. This is a big step up for me, and I’m finding building the second one at home is requiring me to purchase some tools. Enter the powermatic PM701 mortiser.

I was in need of cutting mortises for the drawer blades, and this machine fits the bill nicely. I picked up this machine new in the box at the Downingtown Woodcraft, along with a 1/4, 5/16 and 3/8” mortising bits. The machine was well packaged, with a significant amount of whatever petroleum product to keep the machined pieces shiny. It took me about 15 minutes to get this baby set up on my bench and install the 1/4” bit. Set up was a breeze, nothing more than installing the lever and wiping it down. I did follow some online advice and I sharpened up the chisel part of the mortising bit before using. I marked up the mortises and away I went.

The 1/4” bit cut through hard maple without any problems. The mortises are clean and accurate. I was surprised how quickly it took to get this accomplished, by the last mortise I was moving right along. Just a little clearing out of renegade material and the mortises were all set to be fitted to the tenons.

I read on an online review where someone was complaining about this machine and gave the mortiser lower marks for being a one trick pony; he was saying for the money it should do more than just cut mortises. I couldn’t agree less, this machine does exactly what it is designed to do and appears to do it well. Cutting these mortises was really presenting me a challenge, I really didn’t want to try to do this by hand. I am very happy with this purchase, I know it will get some good use. Sorry about the sideways picture, not sure why it’s loading that way. Hope this review is okay.




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kennymac

41 posts in 1375 days



13 comments so far

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dday

165 posts in 1599 days


#1 posted 03-29-2016 04:21 PM

I have a question about these tools. Do they have more torque or something than a drill press? Could you buy a set of mortising chisels and do the same thing on your benchtop drill press?

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pintodeluxe

5781 posts in 2983 days


#2 posted 03-29-2016 04:21 PM

Nice review. I really like dedicated tools that do a great job and make life easier. I have two mortisers in the shop and use them regularly. This machine should serve you well.

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

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Desert_Woodworker

1623 posts in 1384 days


#3 posted 03-29-2016 04:34 PM



I have a question about these tools. Do they have more torque or something than a drill press? Could you buy a set of mortising chisels and do the same thing on your benchtop drill press?

- dday


My experience from years past; re; drill press after market was not good. These dedicated bench top models do work. I own a Delta and compared to the aftermarket no comparison. But now I have chosen dowels over mortise and tennion.

-- Desert_Woodworker

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HillbillyShooter

5811 posts in 2462 days


#4 posted 03-29-2016 06:17 PM

Agree the PM701 is a great bench top tool! It is a dedicated mortising machine designed for maximum leverage and rigidity required for mortising. My only regret for new owners is that Forest City is no longer in business since I consider their hollow mortising bits the best.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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ChuckV

3175 posts in 3697 days


#5 posted 03-29-2016 07:20 PM

I have had mine for about five years, and it has been a great machine for me. Since it is a “one-trick-pony”, it sits unused sometimes. But when it is needed, it is just what I need. It’s kind of like a fire extinguisher is a “one-trick-pony”.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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ChuckC

843 posts in 3104 days


#6 posted 03-29-2016 07:33 PM

Congratulations on your purchase!
I’ve had this mortiser for about 3-4 years and its been wonderful to have. I use the PM bits and they have been great too. I have no complaints.

I don’t see how you can give a bad review (or lower mark) based on it being a one trick pony. It does exactly what it’s advertised to do, and does it well.

View kennymac's profile

kennymac

41 posts in 1375 days


#7 posted 03-29-2016 09:41 PM


Congratulations on your purchase!
I ve had this mortiser for about 3-4 years and its been wonderful to have. I use the PM bits and they have been great too. I have no complaints.

I don t see how you can give a bad review (or lower mark) based on it being a one trick pony. It does exactly what it s advertised to do, and does it well.

- ChuckC

Just used it again, and I love it. I did find that review, it was on the woodcraft site. In hindsight I may have misrepresented the review. It appears the reviewer was wishing he had gotten the bigger floor mount mortiser as he was having trouble with cutting mortises larger than the capacity of the bench top model. I dunno, I think this machine is great for what it is designed to do. Very happy with my purchase.


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runswithscissors

2865 posts in 2195 days


#8 posted 03-30-2016 12:54 AM

I have the Delta version. I recently had to cut some 1/2” through mortises (7/8” beech), and that was about the capacity limit for it. In fact, I slide a pipe persuader over the handle for more leverage. Had to make 48 mortises, and was concerned I might break something with the extra stress I was putting on it, but it came through okay.

For edge mortises in 3/4” material, I prefer the 5/16” chisel over the 1/4”. The tenons are stronger, and the walls of the mortise are still plenty substantial.

The reason the dedicated mortiser is superior to the DP adaptor is that you can apply a lot more force. I tried Grizzly’s version, and though I was able to make mortises with it, it was barely satisfactory.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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RJweb

123 posts in 2802 days


#9 posted 03-30-2016 12:58 AM

I lived in philly and that school is excellent. Your work is a real chraftsman and would love to see when you are done. Sorry I have no input on your new toy, and dealing with downingtown woodcraft is a plus, good luck with your schooling. They don’t have any good cabinet schools here in Texas, thx RJ

-- Life Begins @ 190 MPH

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TheFridge

10489 posts in 1656 days


#10 posted 03-30-2016 01:05 AM

Good to hear. I’ve been considering a mortiser.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Mainiac Matt

8489 posts in 2498 days


#11 posted 03-30-2016 08:39 PM

Consider getting a diamond sharpening cone to hone the chisels.

I picked up a set a few years ago and it makes keeping the chisels sharp a breeze.

You really need to keep your chisels sharp to cut clean mortises in hard wood.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View kennymac's profile

kennymac

41 posts in 1375 days


#12 posted 03-30-2016 10:50 PM



Consider getting a diamond sharpening cone to hone the chisels.

I picked up a set a few years ago and it makes keeping the chisels sharp a breeze.

You really need to keep your chisels sharp to cut clean mortises in hard wood.

- Mainiac Matt

Thanks for the tip. The mortiser came with a diamond sharpening cone, which I didn’t know until I got home and unpackaged it. I also bought the Wood River mortising chisel sharpening kit when I got the mortiser but I have yet to break it out. I saw the video that the woodwhisperer put out about hollow chisel mortisers and he recommended the sharpening kit. Between the two I plan to keep these chisels tuned up nicely.

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Mainiac Matt

8489 posts in 2498 days


#13 posted 03-31-2016 01:42 PM

The design of the bench top mortisers hasn’t changed much over the years… What I think distinguishes the good ones is:

1. Motor runs at 1,725 rpm (vs. 3,450). The slower speed motors cost more, but they are much less prone to burn up the auger bits and chisels.

2. The quality of the chisels used.

3. A fence/hold down system that actually works.

It looks like Powermatic got all of these right.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

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