Which mortising machine

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by MT_Stringer posted 05-05-2013 02:04 AM 2844 views 0 times favorited 50 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3200 days

05-05-2013 02:04 AM

I am considering purchasing a mortising machine for a couple of projects on my list. It seems most reviews have their fair share of negative things ranging from crummy fence to hold downs.

What would you suggest…budget is flexible say under $500.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

50 replies so far

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4354 posts in 2378 days

#1 posted 05-05-2013 02:55 AM

I have JET mortising attachment for a 14” drill press if you want it PM me, glad to see it get any use, like ever…

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View TheDane's profile


5405 posts in 3632 days

#2 posted 05-05-2013 03:02 AM

I have a Jet JBM-5 … it is a good machine, but has some drawbacks.

The fence lacks any rack-n-pinion or micro-adjust mechanism … here’s a review I did on it several years ago:
I have had this machine for going on seven years, and have no plans to replace it.

On my list of things to do is installation of a cross-vise that will replace the table and fence altogether … here is an article that describes what I plan to do …

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

View gearupflapsup's profile


16 posts in 1899 days

#3 posted 05-05-2013 08:06 AM

Wood magazine did a review about 6 months ago. Powermatic ranked 1, with its high price point. Shop fox was second.

View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 2164 days

#4 posted 05-05-2013 12:48 PM

The challenge with mortisers is their a costly investment relative to the number of times their used. THAT said…see the following:

If you’re willing to be patient, you’ll eventually find an excellent high-end mortise on Craigslist. I purchased my Powermatic for $150.

If you believe you need a new tool then the Powermatic is considered the top of the line followed by the Jet with the Shop Fox being considered quite admirable for most tasks (i.e. consider whether you’ll need a 2HP machine for oak, etc).

I did some research on the drill press mortising attachments and whereas several were spoken of as being suitable, I’ve always had a ‘flinch’ factor when it comes to items like that. It’s the proverbial ‘universal’ tool concept. Yes…it can do most of what it claims to do but rarely does any of them very well. Just my bias…

Finally…you probably already know which direction to head based on your anticipated use of the tool, the frequency of using it, and your cost parameters. Most of us here are tool ‘junkies’ by nature…wanting the ‘mega-unit’ to use one a year (see me in that category). My rule of thumb is that tools I use all the time I purchase high-end and new…the ‘blue-moon’ tool but still want quality…Craigslist, the rare use…low-end stuff and take my chances.

Hope this helps…

View RogerM's profile


792 posts in 2368 days

#5 posted 05-05-2013 01:37 PM

I have really enjoyed my tilting head General mortised.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4354 posts in 2378 days

#6 posted 05-05-2013 04:04 PM

ScrubPlane I would agree on the attachment, having had the thing for 10+ years it is still in the original box, never used or opened. Makes a good paperweight that is about it…. (laughing)

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View TheDane's profile


5405 posts in 3632 days

#7 posted 05-05-2013 04:26 PM

As I recall, Tom Hintz ( ) has several of the drill press mortising attachments.

I think he has them ‘planted’ in the wood behind his house!

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

View verdesardog's profile


159 posts in 2580 days

#8 posted 05-05-2013 06:38 PM

I have a drill press mortiser that I’ve use many, many times in the past 20 or so years. For the number of times that I’ve used it, it has paid for itself many times over. I have coveted a dedicated mortiser for many years but could never justify the cost per use factor.

I’m sure that a real one would be easier to use but….....

-- .. heyoka ..

View Loren's profile


10278 posts in 3617 days

#9 posted 05-05-2013 10:17 PM

Slot mortisers work well and can do loose tenon
joinery easily. A chisel mortiser cannot do loose
tenons at all.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3200 days

#10 posted 05-05-2013 11:57 PM

Lots of good info and suggestions presented here. Thanks.

Hmmm…I have one of those milling vises. ‘Course it is a HF Model and not as fancy as the one in the article but it should work. I need to study the article some more. My vise might not fit. UGH!

The Jet model is right in the middle of my price range.

Still thinking…

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2226 days

#11 posted 05-06-2013 12:47 AM

I have a Jet mortiser and the hold down is bad enough that I decided I needed something better. Ultimately, I purchased the Mortise Pal as a replacement. I have used it for making a set of chairs and am very pleased with the ease of use, the accuracy of the mortises and the flexibility of the jig. I think it is worth a look. Here is an in-depth review. However, you also need an appropriate router and bits to use the Mortise Pal. HTH

-- Art

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2237 days

#12 posted 05-06-2013 01:25 AM

Roger is right I also like mine way better then comparible models.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2659 days

#13 posted 05-06-2013 01:47 AM

Gerry, I’ve got one of those vises that I took off my drillpress. I’ll see if I can make it work as I HATE the holddown on my Jet!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3843 days

#14 posted 05-06-2013 01:56 AM

Pretty happy with my General tilt-head mortising machine.

-- -- --

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2940 days

#15 posted 05-06-2013 02:01 AM

I bought a nice little Palmgren X-Y vise and use it on my dedicated drillpress mortiser. Works reasonably well.
But I had a spare drill press and got the Delta mortising attachment on closeout at Lowes for $44.

showing 1 through 15 of 50 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics