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Forum topic by rwe2156 posted 03-22-2015 12:51 PM 1064 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


03-22-2015 12:51 PM

I either do the drill/chisel or router method.

I’m planning on getting into some furniture building projects with lots of mortises, so I’m looking at them

I would like an XY machine, but floor models out of my budget.

Woodtek has a 1HP benchtop model I am attracted to.
Rikon has one with an XY, but 1/2 HP?? That seems underpowered to me.

Appreciate any comments/suggestions based on your experience with your machine.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!


19 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2410 posts in 1981 days


#1 posted 03-22-2015 01:08 PM

I’ll start. I also had a very limited budget when I bought mine, back in 2001. So I popped for a Harbor Freight. Not the finest machine ever built, to be sure. Table essentially sucks. Slightly underpowered, but not from the motor. The way it brings down the chisels into the wood, it gets stuck. And I find that if I take only half a hole or less at a time it works great. Try to take it all at once, not so good. But in the end, I did a slight modify to the table to increase the size, and made sure the chisels were kept sharp, and I made a heck of a lot of square holes with that baby.

So you can probably cross that one off your list, and if any other brand looks like it or works like it, probably stay away from them also, unless you want to do mods after purchase.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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Ocelot

1471 posts in 2105 days


#2 posted 03-22-2015 01:11 PM

I don’t know much about morticers. I have one of those Harbor Freight ones that I bought 3rd-hand for $50. What I do know is that for most of them, the motor just turns the drill, and the chisel is driven by your arm-muscles. Morticing is slower than normal drilling, and you’re not dealing with 2 1/5 forster bits or something huge like that. So, I would think that 1/2 HP was adequate. But that’s just thinking, not from experience.

I also have a set of morticing chisels (that you hit with a mallet). In future, I plan to do it that way. For now, my test hand mortices look a bit sloppy.

-Paul

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bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2534 days


#3 posted 03-22-2015 01:48 PM

The more power the faster you can go, and it adds weight to the leverage when punching with the chisels. I’ve done it all from just marking drilling most out and using a chisel to straiten the sides and corners, to using a router and doing floating tenons, and that worked well and nice with a lot of them to do. I upgraded to the Domino that was real nice, but has its limitations as well. When I had a bed project to do with a lot of tenon material, I sold the domino to pay for the floor mortiser and that’s my current method. Although I kinda wish I still had the domino, but its all good.

If you have a lot, and depending on the location and type then a bench top will be good, keep in mind the stroke length will limit depth of mortise.

Floadtng is the most forgiving.

HF tools are generally low quality, but if you can make up for that by realling working those chisels and getting them in shape and keep them sharp. A dull chisel will make for a very frustrating experience.

Get a sharpening cone and lap those chisels on stones or what ever method you use to sharpen.

I have the powermatic ones, and out of the box they were rough. I spent a little time sharpening the ourside and getting them honed. then used the sharpening cone with pilot pin and they were razor sharp and cutting big mortises were no big deal.

Moral of the story, you can overcome limitations by sharpening your chisels if you get a benchtop model.

Good luck!

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

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ElChe

630 posts in 803 days


#4 posted 03-22-2015 05:58 PM

1/2 h.p. isn’t going to cut it. :). Pun intended. I have an older Powermatic 719 standalone and it is a beast. It is the version that doesn’t tilt. The current 719t is the tilting version and it is expensive. Before that I used a buddy’s, a non xy version by General bench top without xy table. Here is what I learned. To work well, a mortiser needs a good square fence, a good lockdown or holdfast mechanism, and sharp bits driven by adequate power. An xy table with stops for repeatable mortises is also essential. Here is what I would discourage. Gas return does make it a lot easier to do a bunch of mortises without Hulk Hogan arms. I can’t recommend the following:

1. Holdfasts that look like pucks usually two: they don’t work well to hold the board against the fence. Sometimes as you retract the mortising bit it will pull the board out of the pucks. I much prefer the threaded version.

2. No xy: difficult to get true repeatable mortises without a lot of fuss.

3. Less than 3/4 h.p.: although sharp bits may allow you to get by with 1/2 h.p. the 3/4 h.p. and up will require less effort.

See if you can find a used Powermatic 719. I paid 800 or maybe 900 for mine brand new. I don’t think they are made anymore unless it is now the 719a. I highly recommend the older 719.

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

View Rob's profile

Rob

229 posts in 2453 days


#5 posted 03-22-2015 07:17 PM

I have the Grizzly benchtop 1/2hp morticing machine (Not an XY type). I find that 1/2hp is way too much power because it sits on a shelf collecting dust. Biggest piece of crap I’ve ever purchased. The only time a fellow woodworker laughed at me was when I offered to give it to him. Second biggest piece of crap was the Grizzly tenoning jig. Fortunately I got $40 for that thing. I’m a fan of Grizzly tools but those two should have never made it to my shop!

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1323 days


#6 posted 03-22-2015 07:33 PM

I have a delta and I believe the biggest chisel I can get is 1/2”. 1/2 hp is plenty to turn the bit. When you go up to a machine that takes a bigger chisel then you want more hp. How big of a mortise do you intend to cut? I believe that’s what you need to decide. Then the hp will come hand in hand.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#7 posted 03-22-2015 10:59 PM

I’m thinking the average mortise I will cut will be 1/4 or 3/8.
I like the xy table idea for a benchtop and the only ones I’ve found are Bailey (bad reviews), Rikon, and Craftex (Canadian).

I can’t afford a floor model.

I run across the Deltas occasionally for $150 or so and thinking what have I got to lose?

But I don’t want even that type of machine if its not meeting my standards.

I’ve definitely decided I want a 3/4 horse machine if possible.
I want clamp, too. I notice some machines don’t have a clamp (what the heck?)

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1592 posts in 891 days


#8 posted 03-22-2015 11:30 PM

I added an XY vise to my Jet mortiser. I built the table and bolted it all together for a great price.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View buster09841's profile

buster09841

16 posts in 763 days


#9 posted 03-22-2015 11:31 PM

i have the rikon XY and have only tested it a few times but i have used the delta, steel city and grizzly 1/2 hp models and they all function pretty much the same.

i find that 1/2 hp is great, and on a budget pretty much any machine you will buy is 1/2 hp. it’s more about have sharp chisels and bits then an extra 1/4 hp (powermatic).

if you have to take 2 plunges into the mortise to get full depth, or even 3 or 4 with a 1/2 hp to reach full depth who cares because even with a 2hp mortiser you are still going to want to plunge twice most likely to make sure the chips are clearing properly.

i have seen a lot of great furniture built with 1/2 hp mortisers and i don’t remember any of those people saying “man i wish my mortiser had more power!”. infact most of them say that they are just so easy to use it’s hard to stay away from them.

if you need to make a huge mortise at some point just plunge route it and clean it up with chisels. the rikon xy is on sale at woodcraft right now for $300!

just spend some time fine tuning the bits that come with it or buy a slightly better set (probably still want to sharpen these as well those) and have fun!

this is all just my observations and thoughts so you can ignore if you want. but unless you are mortising every day or a few times a week for long periods of time, i would stick with what fits the budget and not worry about 1/2 or 3/4 or 1 hp, as for what it sounds like you are going to do can be done just as easily on any of the models out there.

good luck.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#10 posted 03-23-2015 12:16 AM


I added an XY vise to my Jet mortiser. I built the table and bolted it all together for a great price.
- timbertailor
What do you do for a hold down?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2192 posts in 1492 days


#11 posted 03-23-2015 12:16 AM

I posted a thread a while back called “Fabricating and adding an X-Y table . . .” It didn’t cost much (one chunk of aluminum 6” X 8” square tubing, 1/4” wall, plus a gear rack and spur gear, plus various fastenings etc. Includes powerful, quick to use hold downs, and gives you a table capacity of 24”, which answers one of the complaints about tables being too small. I can cut a 5/16” X 5” mortise in less than a minute, left hand cranking the table over while the right works the lever arm.

Mine is a Delta bench top, and I have found the 1/2 h.p. motor to be quite adequate. You’re only turning a small bit (less than 1/2”). For 3/4” material, my preferred mortise is 5/16”. I use the Delta chisels that came with the machine, and they work fine, after sharpening of course. Someday I’ll get some high quality chisels, but these are okay in the meantime.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#12 posted 03-23-2015 12:19 AM

Buster, thanks you’re making alot of sense.

I’m actually thinking about going with the Rikon because I know Woodcraft will take it back if I don’t like it.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1323 days


#13 posted 03-23-2015 12:20 AM

Remember that the motor is merely turning the drill bit. The rest of the horsepower needed comes from your arm.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#14 posted 03-23-2015 12:26 AM

Run W/S,

Thanks, I’ve seen a couple things about this but at this point I’mpast building shop jigs and fixtures like that anymore.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1592 posts in 891 days


#15 posted 03-23-2015 03:58 AM


I added an XY vise to my Jet mortiser. I built the table and bolted it all together for a great price.
- timbertailor
What do you do for a hold down?

- rwe2156

the vise itself.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

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