What mortiser?

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Forum topic by john2005 posted 01-02-2016 11:09 PM 1065 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1741 posts in 1598 days

01-02-2016 11:09 PM

I am gearing up to get a mortiser. After reading all kinds of reviews I have narrowed my choices down to the Wood River or the Powermatic. I would prefer the Powermatic, but my budget prefers the Wood River. I am looking for a little bit of input. What are your thoughts on the subject. Is the Wood River worth getting, or should I hold out until I can afford the Powermatic. And the chisels. Its about a $350 difference cause the Wood River comes with chisels. Thoughts?

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

32 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


797 posts in 2269 days

#1 posted 01-02-2016 11:26 PM

Was riding the mortise thought for quite awhile, kept waiting to see one for reasonable $$$ on CL that was not a low end HF unit. Time passes and I seem to be doing fine with the little router DW611 I picked up and it’s much more versatile in the shop. I think I might be over it for a Mortiser, because I’m thinking that the Domino would replace my need for a mortise and again be more versatile in the shop…

Not much help maybe, but then maybe you’re cutting a lot more mortises than I am, I almost pulled the trigger on the Rikon version with the X Y table… Is the PM 1/4 horse Power more worthy???

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 571 days

#2 posted 01-02-2016 11:49 PM

I have a Delta, and have used a Crapsman which I think might be the same. I like the wing extensions on the WR. IMHO HP is not a big deal, leverage, sharp bits and chisels is.Thats why you see so many drill press mortiser adapters on CL, you dont have the leverage. I dont like the dog legged handle on the PM seems too long. I sit at mine when using

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View AlaskaGuy's profile


2392 posts in 1729 days

#3 posted 01-03-2016 12:16 AM

Spend the money now, be happy later.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 571 days

#4 posted 01-03-2016 12:20 AM

Well since you did not put in a model #, I am now confused, I looked at both and there was not a 350 difference on the 2 models I looked at.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2233 days

#5 posted 01-03-2016 01:10 AM

I have a Delta 14-651 benchtop mortiser. I used it for a long while and got surprisingly good results with it. It is fairly similar in size and power to the Woodriver / Steel City benchtop unit. With a 1/4” or 5/16” hollow chisel they work really nice. 3/8” and 1/2” mortises are slower and very tiring on the arm. I was often frustrated with the chisel getting stuck in the workpiece. The clamp wasn’t very affective on the Delta.
At least the two models you are considering have roller wheels to hold stock tight into the fence.

Then I upgraded to the Jet JFM-5 floor model mortiser. Wow, that was a nice upgrade. The X-Y sliding table feels like a big luxury and makes mortising quicker and much easier. The big quick-release clamp holds the workpiece solidly in position. With the old benchtop unit I wore my hands out constantly gripping the stock against the fence. Now the quick release face clamp does all the work.

If you are shopping for your forever tool, then get the Powermatic. If you are an occasional user then try the Wood River unit. If you become an expert at sharpening hollow chisels, even the cheap ones work well. I use the Woodstock set, which can be had for $35
I also have a Jet premium chisel, which is nicer to use but they all cut well.
Good luck deciding.

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

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 571 days

#6 posted 01-03-2016 02:19 AM

I dont understand, ”’about the force need to hold against the fence??? the pressure/force is down, not pushing away from the fence. Yes you need to exert some force to hold tight to the fence, but you are not counter acting an opposing force.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 507 days

#7 posted 01-03-2016 02:19 AM

I research the heck out of purchases for a long time before I pull the trigger, and I have been researching mortisers for quite a while now. My money’s going to go to the Powermatic.

-- Learn Relentlessly

View teejk02's profile


414 posts in 545 days

#8 posted 01-03-2016 02:28 AM

I think they all come from the same factory and only differ in color and label (at least that’s what I found in Delta/Jets years ago when I went with the Delta because most of my machines are Delta and I like to keep my shop color coordinated). Find one that has the best value on included bit/chisel sets. If you opt for the bench top model do yourself a favor and rip some “rests” from 2×4 stock long enough to clamp to your bench without getting in the way of the piece. The tables on those things are pretty tiny and there is enough going on so eliminate having to deal with a “teeter totter”. I don’t use mine often but I wouldn’t part with it.

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 756 days

#9 posted 01-03-2016 06:54 AM

I have the older Powermatic 719, the one that doesnt tilt. Came with decent hollow chisel set that I tuned up with a diamond cone and an auger file for the bit. It works great. The XY sliding table makes repeat mortises a snap. The hold down clamps the stock securely. This is important when retracting the bit as it has a tendency to want to raise the stock off the table with less stout hold downs. I build a lot of arts and crafts furniture for my extensive clientele (of family members) and it really shines.

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

View john2005's profile


1741 posts in 1598 days

#10 posted 01-03-2016 07:46 AM

Thank you all for the info. I am appreciative of any info I can get. I hate spending this much money and not being happy with the results. Thanks again

Well since you did not put in a model #, I am now confused, I looked at both and there was not a 350 difference on the 2 models I looked at.

- conifur

Sorry, should have been more specific. The WR comes with chisels. The PW does not. Now you could use a cheaper chisel, and if that was the route I were to go, I wouldn’t buy any at all. But I have the Grizzly drill press attachment so I have chisels. I just don’t think their chisels are built well. So if I wen’t with the PW I would seriously consider the PW chisel which are 165. Add that to the 200 price difference and you get 365. Next week however Woodcraft is having a sale on PW so I can save 40. Long story short, round off to a 350 difference.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View robscastle's profile


3314 posts in 1624 days

#11 posted 01-03-2016 08:03 AM

One of the issues with HCM is the fact so much force is required to produce satisfactory mortices.
This force and the resultant jambing on withdrawal can be reduced by polishing the chisels way above the the finish on those produced by suppliers.
To do this yourself takes many hours but returns great results in reduction of pressure required reduced return jambing.

I did some crude tests and posted them as a called Tool Tip #17: Hollow Chisel Mortiser HCM Chisel Tune Up and then the additional tips with results, it may be worth a read.

-- Regards Robert

View mahdee's profile


3457 posts in 1187 days

#12 posted 01-03-2016 01:57 PM

Get one of these.


View terryR's profile


6230 posts in 1728 days

#13 posted 01-03-2016 02:34 PM

Following along since I’m also in the market for a benchtop mortiser.
Cannot believe the powermatic can even be compared to woodRiver? I was looking at Jet/Powermatic. $350/500.

From the few videos I’ve watched, there IS resistance pulling up the square chisel from the mortise, so a clamp to hold the workpiece down is a nice addition.

I would assume the chisels from powermatic are higher quality at $100+ each.

Off to read about woodRiver…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View AZWoody's profile


680 posts in 644 days

#14 posted 01-03-2016 03:52 PM

I have the Shop Fox model which is rated at 3/4 hp.
I haven’t done any amp tests on it during use to check it, but if you’re looking at the powermatic benchtop 3/4, it looks like it as far as the head and motor are concerned, and the others all come from the same factory.

The one thing I do like about the Powermatic, looking at the photos is the single large post versus the double post setup on the one I have. It looks better designed.

One thing I like about the Shop Fox, is that the head can swing to the side of the table for doing the ends of long stock. I think I read in some reviews that it’s unique to this model but I didn’t go into the details in all the different ones.

View bonesbr549's profile


1137 posts in 2487 days

#15 posted 01-03-2016 03:55 PM

Assuming you’re talking about the desktop version. Buy the quality and feel the pain once! I was in your shoes a few years back and even saved my money a little longer and stepped up to the floor model. As to the chisels. Register with Woodcraft and in your birthday month you get 10% off. Wont get that with mortiser but you can use it on the chisels. Thats not a small amount. I’ve learned patience is a hell of a virtue when saving for a tool purchase.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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