Benchtop mortiser or drill press your input is appreciated

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 03-22-2015 08:58 PM 574 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Michigander's profile


214 posts in 1838 days

03-22-2015 08:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mortise machine vs drill press

I have been woodworking for 4 years now making mostly cabinets and small tables. Up till now I have been able to get by without a drill press. However, I am going to be making numerous projects using mortises (table breadboards, cribs with lots of slats etc.) and am thinking of getting a mortise machine.
Can a mortise machine be used as a drill press too? I know there are attachments for drill presses that make mortises, but the reviews on the quality of the outcome is not good.
So I would either buy a dedicated mortise machine OR buy a drill press and use hand chisels to square up the holes. I can’t afford both so that’s not an option.
What are the pros and cons?

6 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


13064 posts in 1275 days

#1 posted 03-22-2015 09:10 PM

I was pondering this a few years ago. I now have both. Bought the dp first, a little one. Then I got the mortiser, then a floor drill press. I thought about getting a dp with a mortising attachment, but then I heard they didn’t work well. Yes you could use the mortiser without the chisel, but you would need long drill bits all the time. Wouldn’t really work well as a drill press. If you can really only get one, get the DP and try an attachment. If that doesn’t work as well as you’d like, save for a mortiser.

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

View canadianchips's profile


2307 posts in 2416 days

#2 posted 03-22-2015 09:50 PM

I use an older Drill press that was dedicated to mortise attachment. I think mine works well.
I also have a floor model Drill press and 2 small bench top drill presses.
I would not want to change back and forth from mortise to drilling.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2406 days

#3 posted 03-22-2015 09:55 PM

I have both now too, but if I could only have one it would be a drill press.
I do not think a mortiser would work well as a drill press.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 755 days

#4 posted 03-22-2015 10:00 PM

A mortiser wont work well as a drill press. you can’t easily change speeds. The table doesn’t go up or down so you would have to adjust with the lever arm. And the back fence would affect the width of boards you can drill. If you can only afford one get a decent drill press.

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

View Michigander's profile


214 posts in 1838 days

#5 posted 03-24-2015 07:15 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I guess it is a drill press and chisels for now.
Appreciate you responding!

View pintodeluxe's profile


4824 posts in 2232 days

#6 posted 03-24-2015 07:22 PM

I honestly think a dedicated mortiser (bench or floor model) is more important in my shop than a drill press. I started with a benchtop mortiser, and it worked pretty well for a number of years.
A mortiser may not work as a drill press, but a drill press doesn’t work well as a mortiser either.
I have a drill press and use it fairly often, but I use my mortiser on every project.
Good luck.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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