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Mortising jig on a drill press or dedicated mortising machine?

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Forum topic by scott_v posted 10-22-2009 05:29 PM 7592 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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scott_v

13 posts in 2408 days


10-22-2009 05:29 PM

I plan to build Shaker and Mission style cabinets and furniture. Should I invest in a dedicated mortising machine, or can I get away with using a mortising jig on a drill press? I have limited shop space and am hoping I can make quality mortises using the DP. Also I’d appreciate some brand/model recommendations.

Thanks!

Scott Vroom


18 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4777 posts in 2932 days


#1 posted 10-22-2009 05:47 PM

I would go for a dedicated hollow-chiself mortiser.

I confronted the same issues a few years ago when I decided to build a Morris Chair, coffee and end tables, and TV cabinet. I talked to some of the guys who gather for woodworking seminars on winter mornings at a local machine shop, did a lot of reading, and came to the conclusion a dedicated mortiser would be a better way to go.

The problem most guys had with the drill press attachments is they kept coming loose, which makes neat, repeatable mortises a little tough to get. It is also hard to get enough leverage with most attachments to plunge into hardwoods.

I wound up with a Jet JBM5 (bought it on sale at Menards 3+ years ago for under $200). I outfitted it with a wider table (from Rockler), and mounted it on a plywood base with a cleat across the front so I can keep it stabilized on my bench with only one clamp.

The Jet is not perfect, but it compares favorably with machines from Delta, ShopFox, etc. with one notable exception: the fence can be a pain to set. The fence is attached to a steel hex rod that is held in place by a thumb screw. There is no rack & pinion fence adjustment (like the one on Delta’s mortiser), so getting the workpiece centered on the table is more trial & error than I am comfortable with.

I have figured out how to install and align the chisels to get the results I want.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

114790 posts in 2847 days


#2 posted 10-22-2009 08:55 PM

Hey Scott
No contest a dedicated hollow-chiself mortiser is quick and easy the only thing I like better is my Multi Router.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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papadan

1157 posts in 2638 days


#3 posted 10-22-2009 09:03 PM

I have a Delta Mortising attachment that didn’t work worth a darn on my old benchtop Ryobi drill press. After getting my Delta full size drill press it works very well.

-- Carpenter assembles with hands, Designer builds with brains, Artist creates with heart!

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 2633 days


#4 posted 10-23-2009 02:45 PM

Dedicated mortiser is my first choice. A router and sharp chisels is my second. Drill press mortising is a far distant 3rd. If you plan on Mission furniture, you will appreciate the speed associated and accuracy with the dedicated machine.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3144 days


#5 posted 10-23-2009 03:35 PM

You can get by with a drill press attachment. But it’s no contest: the dedicated machine does the job better.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3261 days


#6 posted 10-23-2009 06:53 PM

Have you looked at the Mortise Pal? http://www.mortisepal.com/ I like mine so much that my dedicated mortiser is gathering dust.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

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TinWhiskers

156 posts in 222 days


#7 posted 11-19-2015 03:44 PM

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 500 days


#8 posted 11-19-2015 03:50 PM

I believe in the division of labor for econ and in the shop. The butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. You dont ask the butcher to bake bread….

Each machine has a job to do. If you get a machine that does two jobs it will be a jack of all trades and master of none.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Andre's profile

Andre

872 posts in 1075 days


#9 posted 11-19-2015 04:11 PM



I believe in the division of labor for econ and in the shop. The butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. You dont ask the butcher to bake bread….

Each machine has a job to do. If you get a machine that does two jobs it will be a jack of all trades and master of none.

- SirIrb

Have to agree, I have a DP unit but try to use my horizontal mortised if possible. While it does a good job the time to set up is a pain, going to look for a bench top unit! Just need to find more room in the Shop!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 500 days


#10 posted 11-19-2015 04:31 PM

horizontal mortiser, you say?
Hummm, Brand please? Pics would be nice. Not for me, of course, but so the OP can see a nice option to buy.

I believe in the division of labor for econ and in the shop. The butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. You dont ask the butcher to bake bread….

Each machine has a job to do. If you get a machine that does two jobs it will be a jack of all trades and master of none.

- SirIrb

Have to agree, I have a DP unit but try to use my horizontal mortised if possible. While it does a good job the time to set up is a pain, going to look for a bench top unit! Just need to find more room in the Shop!

- Andre


-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View HerbC's profile

HerbC

1496 posts in 2129 days


#11 posted 11-19-2015 04:36 PM



horizontal mortiser, you say?
Hummm, Brand please? Pics would be nice. Not for me, of course, but so the OP can see a nice option to buy.

I believe in the division of labor for econ and in the shop. The butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. You dont ask the butcher to bake bread….

Each machine has a job to do. If you get a machine that does two jobs it will be a jack of all trades and master of none.

- SirIrb

Have to agree, I have a DP unit but try to use my horizontal mortised if possible. While it does a good job the time to set up is a pain, going to look for a bench top unit! Just need to find more room in the Shop!

- Andre

- SirIrb

SirIrb,

Since the original post was dated six years ago, I think the OP probably has made his decision by now…

But it would be nice to know which piece of equipment Andre was referring to…

Herb

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!" http://lumberjocks.com/HerbC/blog/17090

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 446 days


#12 posted 11-19-2015 05:07 PM

My Jet floor DP came with a mortising attachment. I quickly found that it was not worth the effort of installing it. If you are doing a few hidden (blind) mortises then use a router and chisel the corners square or round off the tenon. If you need through mortises and can get by with fake through tenons do that. If you need true through tenons or demand the “real” authentic ones buy a good quality dedicated mortiser. You always can store it on a shelf somewhere when not needed.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Andre's profile

Andre

872 posts in 1075 days


#13 posted 11-19-2015 05:30 PM

http://grizzly.com/products/Single-Spindle-Horizontal-Boring-Machine/G0540

Called a Horizontal Boring machine.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View ElChe's profile

ElChe

630 posts in 606 days


#14 posted 11-19-2015 05:41 PM

I have a Powermatic 719 dedicated machine, not the tilting one. Prior to that I tried an attachment on my Jet drill press. The drill press wasn’t worthless but I had difficulty getting the darned wood to stay put while drilling/chiseling with it because despite various work arounds I couldn’t figure a good way to clamp the wood down on the drill press table. The dedicated machine really does a good job at holding the wood. It also has an x,y adjustable table that makes repetitive mortises a breeze. The dedicated machine is also much more accurate because the bits don’t flex, which was a minor problem with the drill press attachment. Some of the dedicated bench top models don’t have robust clamping systems. I’ve used one that had these discs to hold the wood down and the wood would slip out when backing out the bit. I will say that I do enjoy making mortises by hand for small projects. Nothing like malleting the heck out of a nice piece of wood. :)

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 500 days


#15 posted 11-19-2015 06:02 PM

I have seen old iron that was a horiz mortising. I think what got me thinking here was if one could successfully attach the hollow chisel (modified) to a horiz boring machine. I just stumbeled upon one last night.


http://grizzly.com/products/Single-Spindle-Horizontal-Boring-Machine/G0540

Called a Horizontal Boring machine.

- Andre

Says you!
I go to the store to buy mustard and there are just so many options I stand and look at it for hours. Think of the agony I go through when buying equipment. 6 years?—Thats a snap decision.

horizontal mortiser, you say?
Hummm, Brand please? Pics would be nice. Not for me, of course, but so the OP can see a nice option to buy.

I believe in the division of labor for econ and in the shop. The butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. You dont ask the butcher to bake bread….

Each machine has a job to do. If you get a machine that does two jobs it will be a jack of all trades and master of none.

- SirIrb

Have to agree, I have a DP unit but try to use my horizontal mortised if possible. While it does a good job the time to set up is a pain, going to look for a bench top unit! Just need to find more room in the Shop!

- Andre

- SirIrb

SirIrb,

Since the original post was dated six years ago, I think the OP probably has made his decision by now…

But it would be nice to know which piece of equipment Andre was referring to…

Herb

- HerbC


-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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