Help with cutting/Mortise Machine?!?!

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Forum topic by woodenman posted 02-24-2011 05:32 PM 3093 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 2646 days

02-24-2011 05:32 PM

Hello lumberjocks haha… I am new here, the names Nick!

I will get straight to the point; I am making a few projects which require a 4cm x 4cm through hole to be cut in into a 21cm diameter piece of White Ash/Red Oak. I have been doing this with drill and chisel for a few years, but just takes too long to cut through 21cm of hardwood and I have more customers now than I can handle. So I rather get them their products faster as I have to cut 4 of these same holes in the large piece of wood (no wonder it takes so long).

I am looking to purchase a mortising machine for this purpose only as it seems that it will save me a lot of time drilling/chiseling square holes. My questions for you LUMBERJOCK GODS;

1) Is there a mortise machine out there that takes 4cm x 4cm chisel bits, or do I have to cut multiple holes to achieve my results?

2) Is there a mortise machine out there that strokes 21cm+ or do I have to turn my project over and drill from the opposite end? Which doesn’t bother me at all, or conversely, do I have to modify the stroke distance myself somehow if it can’t even stroke past mid-depth?

3) Is there a mortise machine out there that has 10.5cm+ of clearance from the fence, as my project piece is a cylinder 21 cm diameter, and I will be drilling dead center on the round surface, thus I need some clearance of at least 10.5cm from the fence side if that makes sense?

4) Is there a mortise machine out there capable of cutting through White Ash or Red Oak without too much of a hassle, that even a novice mortise machine user could handle? This will be my first mortise machine.

I apologize if I wasn’t clear in my description here, if I have confused anyone please give me hell about it and I will elaborate as best as I can. It is very important to me to get the best possible answers, hence the reason why I’m asking all you good looking people… :) Also, I am new to this whole mortise machine thing, and I understand that they aren’t exactly made for what I am looking to do with it, however, there must be something out there that is capable of “helping” me out a bit. Thanks to anyone who can give some insightful feedback! All good feedback will be very appreciated!

16 replies so far

View levan's profile


472 posts in 2977 days

#1 posted 02-24-2011 07:52 PM

I don’t have any experience with these, but I wonder if a chain mortiser would work. They are not cheap however. You might want to do a search on timber framing power tools. Sounds like you have quite a project going. Good luck

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Loren's profile (online now)


10385 posts in 3645 days

#2 posted 02-24-2011 08:11 PM

Only a chain mortiser, probably.

More here:

If I were you, I’d probably look at a way to glue up stock to
make the part with the holes in it already.

View woodenman's profile


6 posts in 2646 days

#3 posted 02-24-2011 09:55 PM

Loren! You hit it dead on, that chain mortiser would do the job! Comes standard with 6” or 8” depth chain by 1.5” which is very close to what I need! Very expensive however… Not sure I could afford that at the moment.. Thanks for the response, anymore ideas out there? Keep em’ comming!

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 3024 days

#4 posted 02-24-2011 09:59 PM

Check Lee Valley they used to sell Metric chisels that fit regular mortisers
Just a thought ;)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3104 days

#5 posted 02-24-2011 10:21 PM

I can’t be of any more help than above, but I would love to see what you are doing. Got any visual aids?

View woodenman's profile


6 posts in 2646 days

#6 posted 02-25-2011 03:56 AM

I posted a picture of what I’m doing. The square holes you see are what I need to cut with something that’ll do the job much faster than drill + chisel. So far a chain mortiser seems promising, minus the $4000…. :(

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 02-25-2011 04:27 AM

Some of us still think in terms of imperial measurements. If I did my calculations correctly, you are talking about a hole that is 1 5/8” square and you are talking about cutting this hole 8” deep. That is a big and deep cut. I do not know how I would do that.

Could you use a band saw to cut across the product and cut out the squares and then glue it back together? You might be surprised as to how well you can hide glue lines.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2923 days

#8 posted 02-25-2011 06:01 AM

You may be able to find an old machine and make it work.

I sold a foot pedal Powermatic last fall for $1500.00 that plowed through hardwoods with a 1” chisel, that was the biggest size I had purchased. I am sure it would handle it, and the depth and height shouldn’t be a problem.

Good luck!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Loren's profile (online now)


10385 posts in 3645 days

#9 posted 02-25-2011 06:18 AM

View Colin 's profile


93 posts in 2808 days

#10 posted 02-25-2011 06:31 AM

If you have more customers than you can handle, a mortising machine capable of doing these cuts in one pass will pay for itself very quickly. Try looking for a maka oscillating chisel mortiser. You can have tooling made for it allowing you to cut any variety of mortises in a single stroke. Here's a video that shows a vertical setup. Most are horizontal and you can get them with multiple heads as well.


View Harry_Ch's profile


63 posts in 2673 days

#11 posted 02-25-2011 06:49 AM

And I thought doing a couple of those was a maddening. Have you looked at Festool domino joiner system? Basicly you just have to hold and press while it does the work. May have to make a jig to center it on the round stock. Good luck on your endeavor.

-- Deeds not Words.

View woodenman's profile


6 posts in 2646 days

#12 posted 02-25-2011 07:48 AM

Appreciate all responses, they do help but sometimes make things worse lol. It’s like every 5 minutes I’m thinking of a new technique/machine to do the job with, maybe I should have been an engineer or something… Hmmm..

So far, a chain mortiser would be awesome, I have already figured out a table/stand with a jig setup to position the machine over my marked holes on the body and just plow through them, however I’m not sure I want to spend $4000+ on a machine I haven’t been able to see upfront and play with. I gotta FEEL it first, then I can talk $.. I’m estimating my budget in the $1000 more or less range. Such a machine could pay itself off on one project!

Jusfine: Any info on that machine might help, Powermatic what, I’m guessing hollow chisel mortiser??

Loren: Not sure about that one, missing parts and old. I’ve had e-bay nightmares before, but thanks for the post! Nice to know I got someone looking over my shoulder :)

Colin: It’s funny, I just saw that video about an hour ago and you happened to post it, did make me think quite a bit. Have you used one before?? Only thing I’m worried about is the exit wounds… Would it leave rip out at the other end??

Harry_Ch: I will look into it, any advice about it??

Skarp: Yes Mook Jongs are very expensive, but I can supply them a lot faster and cheaper if I had a machine to help me, hence business would be better! I’ve been making them for years but I just get tired of the old drill/chisel method, takes too damn long and really hurts customers $ wise, and not much I can do about it, time is money… Do you train Wing Chun?

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2958 days

#13 posted 02-25-2011 08:48 AM

you could adapt a stadard hollow chisel mortising machine to have a higher clearance, the sroke is usually limited to 10cm with the longest chisels.
so you would need to make the mortise on both sides. (i suggest you do that anyway since otherwise on the side where the chisel comes out it will tear out the wood)

i worked with chain mortisers and a chain mortiser is a good tool for making mortises in large numbers.
but it isn’t made for making mortises that you can see, on the edge where the chain moves upwards there will be minimal tearout, it will get lubricating oil on you wood and inside the mortise. and the workpiece must be clamped extremely well because the chain really tries to make it move. with a round workpiece that could become a nightmare.

in my case i would rather quit woodworking than having to use a chain mortiser instead of my hollow chisel!

View romanf's profile


20 posts in 3254 days

#14 posted 02-25-2011 07:31 PM

I believe there are a couple of floor mortisers that might fit the bill. The first is the Powermatic PM719T and the other is a Jet JFM-5. The Jet runs right around $1,000 and the Powermatic around $1,100 or so.

If you want to go more industrial check out this Wallace machine on Ebay #160549663363 or check out the Accura Machine on Ebay #320655607912. And finally Shop Fox also makes one in your price range, Ebay #400194251227

And if you do want to go the chain mortiser route, check out the Makita on Ebay #120680130842, new for $1,599. Not much more than a good floor mortiser.

I think that the Powermatic can take a chisel of 1.25” or 3.175cm, which should make short work of those squares.

View levan's profile


472 posts in 2977 days

#15 posted 02-25-2011 08:09 PM

You might try They have a used chain mortiser in Ill. Don’t know where you are located

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

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