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 6990 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 2138 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.


Scott Vroom

6 replies so far

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4377 posts in 2662 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!"

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113624 posts in 2577 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.

-- Custom furniture

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1157 posts in 2368 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!

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Vincent Nocito

458 posts in 2364 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.

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Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2874 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.

-- -- --

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Damian Penney

1140 posts in 2991 days

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

Have you looked at the Mortise Pal? 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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