Who uses a bench top mortiser?

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Forum topic by Woodchuck2010 posted 07-28-2016 06:52 PM 1420 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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722 posts in 1036 days

07-28-2016 06:52 PM

Is it worth the price? I have a chance to get a Powermatic PM701 with the bits and riser block for $325. Its very lightly used and looks new. I’m not sure if it would get the use to justify the cost. It’s a good deal for a practically new machine but….......

-- Chuck, Michigan,

28 replies so far

View ste6168's profile


255 posts in 1350 days

#1 posted 07-28-2016 07:11 PM

I don’t have one, but either a benchtop mortiser or a domino is on my list. I am not sure which route I will go when the time comes. For now, my mortise chisels and/or router do the job.

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1098 days

#2 posted 07-28-2016 07:23 PM


It looks like the mortiser is discounted about $200 off new. If the hollow mortising chisels are good quality and lightly used and little to no bluing on the chisels, then the value of the deal is further enhanced.

As to whether it represents a value to you is impossible for me to say. It seems to me that question hinges on the number and frequency of mortises you cut and whether you are completely satisfied with the mortises you are now cutting. Your question suggests you have some money for a tool upgrade, so I would think the answer is also impacted by what alternative upgrade you could make if you passed up the mortiser.

I purchased the PM701T (the floor model) a couple of years ago, along with the PM hollow chisel set and a hollow chisel sharpening kit. Almost every project I build includes some mortises. Prior to the PM701T, I made mortises at the drill press. There is no comparison between the drill press and the mortiser. I immediately saw mortises that could be either accurately offset or centered on the work piece. The additional leverage from a long handle made drilling the mortises a little easier. It also keeps the drill press free to drill round holes. I only use the mortiser for about an hour or so per project; otherwise it sets idol. Nonetheless, for me I am satisfied with my upgrade and I am less aggravated when making tenons.

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722 posts in 1036 days

#3 posted 07-28-2016 07:37 PM

I really haven’t done much with M/T joinery, but am interested for future “better” furniture projects. I guess I don’t really need to have it, but you always think about the one that got away when you finally decide to get one. hahaha

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View Kirk650's profile


576 posts in 927 days

#4 posted 07-28-2016 07:42 PM

I have a Jet JBM5 mortiser. I use it every now and then and really appreciate it when I am using it. The Powermatic would be a big step up and great to have. I’ll swap ya…

I’d buy it in a heartbeat, but that’s just me.

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1080 days

#5 posted 07-28-2016 07:45 PM

I would buy the powermatic just to build things that use mortise and tenon joints. If you would use mortises for 20% of your products i would consider it. I had a smaller delta mortiser that wasn’t that great and i loved using it.
Spending the money on good chisels will help a lot. i would offer 275 if the chisels are dull or blued. good luck

View mountainaxe's profile


151 posts in 2683 days

#6 posted 07-28-2016 11:02 PM

Worth every penny…can’t tell you how wonderful this Mortiser is…and at at great price. Buy it.

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

View teejk02's profile


485 posts in 1303 days

#7 posted 07-28-2016 11:24 PM

I do mostly mission style furniture. The mortiser doesn’t get used much but I paid about $300 for it (with 4 bits/chisels) and would not sell it. I have it mounted on a wheeled bench behind my miter saw. Small footprint.

View ChuckV's profile


3177 posts in 3705 days

#8 posted 07-28-2016 11:40 PM

I have the PM701, and it is a great machine. Sometimes I get into a pattern of making projects that do not use M&T joinery. The mortiser sits there taking up very little room. Then I do something like the four bookcases that I am currently making, and having this machine makes life so much better!

If it is in good shape, I would go for it.

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

View greenacres2's profile


329 posts in 2346 days

#9 posted 07-28-2016 11:56 PM

I have the Jet mentioned earlier, and as others have said…I don’t use it often but when I do it earns its keep. I’m driving over to Toledo, OH this weekend to pick up a few things from a guy—he has a Shop Fox mortise that I think he’s asking $165 for. Doesn’t appear to be the equal of the PM, but might be a way to test the water for somebody.

View robscastle's profile


5389 posts in 2382 days

#10 posted 07-29-2016 12:00 AM

I have a bench top mortiser and I did several blogs on getting it to work like a dream

I dont use it very much and unless you have a definate need for one look forward to it taking up bench space for most of its life, which mine does, however after using it its a useful tool to have even if used infrequently.

If you wanted you could use it as a bench drill as a secondary role.
You will need long drill bits to utilise it.

At the current price I think its good value for money, the PM701 is a similar mortiser to mine.

-- Regards Rob

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2814 days

#11 posted 07-29-2016 01:03 PM

I have the bench top powermatic and its worth it’s weight in gold when you need to cut a lot of mortises. I bought it to make a crib which was over 100 mortises. To be honest I haven’t used it much since, but when you do use it it saves a bunch of time. The domino is a lot more versatile and quick, but for traditional square mortises the powermatic can’t be beat for the price. A buddy bought a craftsman mortises and had all kinds of troubles. He bought another used jet and figured he would piece together one good machine. He hasn’t gotten either to work well and regrets it a bit. If you want a mortiser, the powermatic is the minimum quality worth buying, that is if you see the need. It doesn’t make perfect mortises, but if you have a lot of them it doesn’t matter as much if some holes are a bit rough.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2625 days

#12 posted 07-29-2016 01:34 PM

I’m saving up for a Domino.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View TheDane's profile


5535 posts in 3841 days

#13 posted 07-29-2016 01:54 PM

I have a Jet bench-top mortiser (JBM-5) ... I have had it for about 10 years now, and consider it a good investment for my home workshop.

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)


15659 posts in 2796 days

#14 posted 07-29-2016 05:58 PM

I have a Steel City BTM and love it.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View TheFridge's profile


10515 posts in 1664 days

#15 posted 07-29-2016 06:07 PM

When you need it for tables and chairs and other stuff like that, it can really bang mortises out.

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

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