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Thread: question on benchtop mortisers...

  1. #1

    question on benchtop mortisers...

    ok, I find myself needing to cut 8 mortises thru 3in stock. I can do a rough cleanout with a drill and chop the remainder with a chisel. OR I can use this as an excuse to buy a benchtop mortiser. My question is... how usefull are these really? I don't see myself doing a bunch of them on a regular basis, but who knows what I will be building in the future?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Placitas, NM in the foothills of the Sandia Mt
    OK, here's my 2 cents... Its a good excuse to get a benchtop mortiser.

    Having said that, here's some "buts": it won't cut a totally clean mortise, it will still be a little rough and need a little (but not a lot) chisel work to smooth it out. Three inches is probably pushing the capacity of most benchtop mortisers, be sure before you buy. You probably will need to sharpen the hollow chisels before using.

    On the positive side, they are fun to use, quiet, not much dust, once set up they just keep on cranking. Much more fun and safer than a router. And they make square holes!!! I hate rounding off tenons to fit a router hole.

    I have the powermatic and I like it, but I wind up using my router jig, too when I want totally smooth walls on the mortise.

    BTW, when I do a through mortise, with whatever technique, I always chop from both sides to avoid tearout.

    Let us know what you decide.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    For the relatively small cost...

    I think they're worth it. As Jesse said, it really beats routing. I've got a Jet model that cost less than $200 as I recall. For a 3" deep (through I hope?) mortise you'll have to either cut from both sides or finish out the depth with an alternate method.

    Now if only I could find an old, neglected chain mortiser for cheap, I'd never go back to hollow chisel

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Waterford, MI
    Wanna buy a used Delta with full set of Clico chisels and sharpener? Haven't figured out a price, but I've been thinking of selling mine for a while. I just don't use it enough to warrant storing it, and like router cut mortises better anyway.
    Link to my ongoing ClearVue DC Install on CV's site: http://www.gallery2.clearvuecyclones...s-Mini-CV1400/

  5. #5
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Bought a jet 6-7 years ago when I was doing some custom stuff for a furniture co. Built over 200 benches in a year or so span for them.
    I had four places where I used the mortiser on the bench.

    Bench sales dried up, furniture co. shut down.
    So my mortiser has sat virtually unused for several years now.

    I rarely use it anymore, but probably will eventually.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Herndon VA
    Brent - I bought mine a few years ago and use it all of the time. I'm working on a new workbench with a maple base. I needed to cut 18 mortises. I used a forstner bit for the bulk of the work and then got the corners and walls cut on the mortiser. It was a lot easier than doing it by hand. You still need to do some chisle work but not much.

    If you do a lot of M&T joints it is a good investment.

    I have the larger Delta bench top but I'd also look at the Bridgewood and maybe the Shopfox.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    I am not a big fan of Harbor Freight tools but they have their place in my shop too. I saw on another forum that they have theirs on sale (closeout?) for $99. Several people had it and said it was a good machine. You might want to look at that. I thought about it but have to many other things going right now to do buy one.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
    Odd man out here

    I personally would sink the money into something else and just drill and pare them.

    I had a large PM mortiser for a number of years. Great machine. Half the time either I banged them out by hand or drilled and pared. Mostly due to odd angles and it was faster than building a way to hold different angles on the mortiser.

    Now I only bang them out or drill/pare. If I had a bunch of Arts & Crafts furniture I would worry about getting another mortiser. But it would take a lot of repetitive work to do it.

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

  9. #9
    Doug, I might be interested depending on price. I could also go with a drill press mounted one as well. I still have time as I am glueing up the legs that the mortises will need to be cut in. decisions, decisions...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I'm late to chime in, but I'd use it as a reason to buy a mortiser. (I had a similar quandry last spring, and ended up with the Shop Fox, and am glad I did.) So far I've used it a lot on two projects, but I foresee other projects down the road where it'll come in handy. For me, it's one of the tools that doesn't get used a lot, but when it does, it's worth the price. Then again, I've not had a lot of experience or success with the drill and pare method, so I'm a bit biased.

    Here's the main project I bought the mortiser for. It's a Viking bed I made for my brother-in-law...lots of square pegs and square holes:

    Click image for larger version. 

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