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Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 05-08-2011 07:01 PM 2909 views 0 times favorited 59 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1599 days


05-08-2011 07:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mortiser tools mortise mortising mortise and tenon

I have began looking at my future need for a mortiser. What are my options? And how much should I expect to spend?

FWIW, I found this on CL in my area of Texas:
http://austin.craigslist.org/tls/2366107232.html
$700 Powermatic Model 719-A

Thoughts? Are there cheaper solutions out there for relative newbies?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."


59 replies so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12292 posts in 2783 days


#1 posted 05-08-2011 07:10 PM

Look for a used bench top mortiser (or buy one new). Here are Woodcraft’s offerings…

http://www.woodcraft.com/Category/2081044/Bench-Top-Mortisers.aspx

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Pop's profile

Pop

419 posts in 2632 days


#2 posted 05-08-2011 07:40 PM

Hi Mike, I was looking for mortisers too. The best deal I could come up with was a Laguna for around $700. That Powermatic sells for around $1,500. What you showed us is half price for one heck of a great machine. I can only hope to fine such a deal when I get ready to buy.

There are cheaper solutions like a bench top that WayneC mentioned. I wanted something a little heaver. A lot of my friends have benchtop machines and they work well.

Pop

-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Loren's profile

Loren

7716 posts in 2333 days


#3 posted 05-08-2011 07:45 PM

That Powermatic would be a good mortiser for a pro cranking
out mission furniture or stuff with through tenons. It’s kind
of overkill if you don’t need to cut a lot of mortises.

The benchtop machines are said to be not as satisfactory as
the floor models.

I like horizontal mortisers personally. You can make one yourself
without too much trouble.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Pop's profile

Pop

419 posts in 2632 days


#4 posted 05-08-2011 07:57 PM

Yes Loren, the Powermatic is overkill, but if you can have a Rolls for the price of a Ford why not. I have a Shopsmith version of the horizontal mortiser. Don’t care much for round ended mortises. You have to either round your tenons of chisel your mortises square. I want a hollow chisel machine.

Pop

-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1536 days


#5 posted 05-08-2011 08:14 PM

I made the choice years ago for a benchtop machine and it has served well.

At the time I was doing the research, all of the comparable machines (up to but not including the Multico, which was beyond budget) ran at 3450 rpm except the Jet, which was 1750. Knowing that heat is the enemy of a cutting surface (and you have two cutting surface tools there) I opted for the slower one.

I recently read a mortising tip that makes great sense, is obvious, but I’d never thought it: drill a starter hole for the first cut, just a little smaller than your finished dimension. All the cuts are cake after that, and much easier on the machine.

For the benchtop, I put a couple of teenuts on the bottom of my higher bench and keep the bolts in a box on the little ply deck the machine is bolted to, so it is easy to bolt it down on the bench. I also made a little portable riser so long stock can be supported one end or the other.

In general I prefer tools on their own pedestal and ready to work, but for the amount of mortising I do, the benchtop solution makes the most sense and takes the lesser real estate.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1378 days


#6 posted 05-08-2011 08:31 PM

I recently purchased a JEt after much discussion. I wanted a large vintage one but didn’t have the room, wanted the PM but didn’t want to spend that much. I settled on the JET and it’s not changed my life in any major way:) I mean, it cuts square holes in stuff pretty well. I think mine was $400 or thereabouts. Of course, you could spend that $400 on pigstickers!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1599 days


#7 posted 05-08-2011 08:44 PM

I appreciate the input guys. I hear Loren about true need vs. Tim-The-Toolman-Taylor as well as that of Pop drooling over the $700 bargain price. Truth be told I will be a light user, at best but that PM719A sure looks nice (would have to add $50 for gas as this is 100 miles away).

That brings up the bench models that Wayne and Lee are suggesting for consideration. From Wayne’s link to WC benchtop model offerings, of Delta, JET, General, Powermatic and WoodRiver, HOW WOULD YOU RANK these models for best bang for buck?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#8 posted 05-08-2011 08:46 PM

I freelance for a living so I get to use all kinds of them. Last shop had a cheap benchtop model, and quite sure it had a gazillion miles on ti. I cursed that thing and in the end had to make my own sliding table but it worked and thats what mattered.

700 almost buys a domino…. but the floor/bench models can do some things the domino cant and visa versa.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1378 days


#9 posted 05-08-2011 09:03 PM

I looked at all the models you mention and would rank them 1) pm, 2) JET, 3) General Moron’s got a good point about the Domino. I don’t like loose tenons but I have no logical reason for it. I also considered a horizontal mortiser but the footprint is a bit large on many of them.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View allmyfingers's profile

allmyfingers

40 posts in 1331 days


#10 posted 05-08-2011 09:30 PM

we picked up a jet on CL for $200 including 6 extra bits. a quality benchtop machine for sure.

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6948 posts in 1599 days


#11 posted 05-08-2011 10:06 PM

I just researched the Domino. It seems a bit complicated for my tastes and some suggest occasional issues with use:
http://lumberjocks.com/topics/11601
That being said, it looks like a traditional mortiser is in my future.

OK, looking at Al’s rankings, the PM701 on Amazon is the standard $439.99 but includes free shipping. That brings up a couple of Questions about mortise bits/chisels:

1. What sizes are used most frequently? (should I get a 4-bit set to start?)
2. What about bit sharpening/tuning? Found NBeener’s post on mortise bit/chisel tuning here. Is this tuning worth the extra step?
3. And what about the Shop Fox W1671 3/4hp Mortiser for $259.99 (remembering that I will be a light user)?

FWIW, It looks like passing on the CL bargain PM719A is best choice for my beginning needs at the moment.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5386 posts in 1917 days


#12 posted 05-08-2011 10:27 PM

Unless you are cutting hundreds of mortises a day (production work) almost all of the bench top models would be more than sufficient for your needs. The Shop Fox you linked is a fairly well regarded, and reviewed machine. AT 3/4 HP it is more powerful than most other machines, which are typically 1/2 HP…. The big drawback, and as far as I am concerned it is no big deal anyway, is that it only comes with the 1/2” chisel. You will need to add chisels later on… Of course if you are wanting to cut 1” mortises in one pass, you will want to go to a large floor model machine… Those typically are not what you find in hobby woodworking shops…

On the lowest end of the mortising spectrum is a drill press and chisels. (my current method). I use forstner bits to hog out the majority of the material, and then square it all up with good sharp chisels… I honestly need to work up a router jig or get a mortiser though, would sure speed up the work!

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1536 days


#13 posted 05-08-2011 10:43 PM

I visited the WoodCraft page.

I see that Delta, Jet and WoodRiver all are 1725 rpm, so I’ll cease my preaching on that score!

I know nothing about the WoodRiver.

The task here is pretty simple, a drill press driven by a rack and pinion, so I don’t know how to parse the features if indeed one differs from another.

As for bit size, I have 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 and they serve me fine; I have used all three and have never felt a need to order more.

It interests me, though, that, unlike other classes of tools, these do not appear to all have been assembled from identical parts in the same Asian factory.

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2430 days


#14 posted 05-09-2011 01:33 AM

Mike, have you got an extra drill press? I have a dedicated drill press with the Delta mortising attachment and a sliding vise, that has served me for many years, in a professional environment. Mine is a floor model, but you can use a bench top also. Main thing is it should have at least 3/4 hp. This way you have more clearance under the bit and you can set it for whatever speed you want. As far as the bits go, I buy the cheaper bits and I have a set of mortise chisel sharpening cones that I picked up from Lee Valley. I build Craftsman furniture and everything goes together with mortise and tenon joints. Just some more food for thought.

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5512 posts in 2061 days


#15 posted 05-09-2011 01:43 AM

Even though I’m aware that it hasn’t worked out for some, I’ve found the HF $100 mortiser to work pretty well for the occasional mortises I do. I’ve done 3” deep mortises in hard maple, and several dozen in QSWO without issue. If I made my living do this I’d want a better tool, but this one was cheap enough and good enough for my needs so far…YMMV.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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