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Thread: Mortiser advice

  1. #1
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    Mortiser advice

    Been looking and pricing a little. I was going to buy a mortising attachment for the one of the many drill presses in the shop. Watching EBay and they have, like many other things, have been high the past few weeks. I was expecting to pick one up for $35 with chisels but it's not to be.

    So I have been looking at dedicated mortisers. There is not much available in old iron that is not really big industrial models and then there are few to pick from and hard to find. So I am giving serious consideration to a new one. Problem is I am out of my element. I haven't found a side by side review of mortisers. But I have read a lot of good comments about the/one of the Delta Models but that is about it.

    So I am looking for some direction. One line reviews would be nice and personal usage. I really don't know what features I want. I don't want to spend anymore than I have too, but I don't want one that will wear out quick either.

    Jeff
    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

  2. #2
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    You should put the Powermatic PM701 on your list. I bought one a few months ago but haven't had a chance to use it except to test it out. Seems to be solid and my test mortises were accurate. I ended up paying around $219 on Amazon after discounts & rebate. It's higher than that now so keep an eye out for deals.

    Chisels: I got this set of four from Lee Valley:
    http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.a...,53317&p=53252
    Seem to be highly recommended by those who know.

  3. #3
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    Hey Jeff,
    Omigod! Buying a new tool

    Maybe I can help ease the tension. If you buy a new mortiser, you will still need to do some work to make it a good, useful tool

    Lots of folk put x-y vises on them for added precision. Thats a rebuild, cause you will probably need to move the handle around or something like that.

    Also, you will need to do some serious sharpening and tuning on the chisels themselves, even the "premier" versions.

    And, of course, its going to need a decent stand - just mounting it on a bench may limit handle travel.

    BTW, I have exactly the same setup that Rod has. The PM has good hold downs and what I really like about it is the jig for setting the drill in relation to the chisel. Its a PITA chore - if the drill goes down too far, its unstable, not far enough and it will engage and burn the chisel. PM has a handy foolproof gadget for doing this built in.
    Don't believe everything you think!

  4. #4
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    I ended up buying the Shop Fox mortiser. I was able to buy it locally, so I saved on shipping charges. I've made quite a few square holes with it, and have been real happy with it. The Powermatic has been spoken highly of, and the General is also recommended by a loit of folks. As Jesse pointed out, you'll need to plan on sharpening the chisels and bits with any of them.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
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    Jeff, Jeff, Jeff...

    Take a deep breath, maybe lie down a while...

    View the photo...

    Hunt for rust...

    John
    Last edited by John Dow; 07-11-2008 at 01:21 AM.

  6. #6
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    Jeff,

    I did a lot of looking when I was shoping for mine last year and here is what I found out. Two test results came out virtually the same. I am not saying that all test are valid, all I am saying is these are the results.

    Number 1 in test for benchtop models was the General International 1/2hp model: http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?FamilyID=5951 I see now that they have the 1" model which would be excellent also I would think.

    Number 1 cost vs performance: http://woodworker.com/cgi-bin/FULLPR...4&LARGEVIEW=ON

    The Delta models fell below the two listed above. I am pretty sure that a Powermatic was in there also. I know that Shop Fox was.

    The Steel City one was not on the market at the time so I do not know how it would have stacked up.

    This one I looked at seriously and decided to buy it but they were out of stock. Very heavy duty for this size and from what I could find out Leneave is a real good outfit that supplies the furniture industry around the North Carolina area. http://www.leneavesupply.com/Machine...te/P04013.aspx

    Since I was hot to trot I bought this one from Wilke and really like it. http://www.wilkemachinery.com/defaul...kudatarq=21546 I also bought the non industrial chisel and bit set from them and they are pretty good quality for not having to cut a 100 mortises a day twenty days a month. The whole set was about $85 as I remember. The guy that I delt with said that was what he used in his personal shop. I got one of the Lee Valley chisel and bits but have not used them enought to compare the quality of the two brands. The Lee Valley ones are a little pricey but I am sure the quality is pretty good. Wilke has the professional models but the price will really knock your socks off.

    I would strongly suggest buying one with the x y vise built in. Once you clamp just move the table with the wheels and plunge and do it again. Really fast and easy.

    I just looked at the General 1" 1hp unit and the price is really getting up there. You can get the Wilke Yorkcraft for about half the price and it has everything that the General does except the tilting head and a 3/4' capacity instead of 1".
    Last edited by Allen Bookout; 02-19-2007 at 09:02 PM.

  7. #7
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    Pricey devils aren't they? Looking at all the different models makes my head spin. One thing I notice is most will not do angles, without getting into the higher priced units. Obviously need to do some more homework.

    I have read everything I can on drill press conversions and one thing I notice is about half the people like it and the other half hate them. I just keep thinking here I have the two Craftsman DP's sitting there and they both have tilting tables. I can easily dedicate one to Mortising..... Plus I have the Delta but I doubt it is up to the task.

    Jeff
    To frugal for his own good sometimes.
    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
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Horton View Post
    One thing I notice is most will not do angles, without getting into the higher priced units.
    Angles shouldn't be a problem. Cut a piece of wood into a wedge with the desired angle and clamp it to the fence.

    I'm skeptical about drill presses for precision mortising.

    I'll also confess that I can get a much cleaner mortise with a router than I can with a mortiser. But the mortiser is way more fun to use
    Don't believe everything you think!

  9. #9
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    I just found one that really interest me. Can not find a review on it though.

    Yorkcraft Mortiser

    I finally found a side by side review and bascially, like you said Allen, they are all about the same. The big complaint was the hold downs. Their words, they all stink! While reading on Woodnet I found a post with some photos of the guys new Yorkcraft mortiser. It has what is basically a vice and an X-Y table built in. Lot of cast iron too. Price is right so I am giving this one some serious consideration.
    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

  10. #10
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    Jeff,

    I looked at that Yorcraft model also. That type of hold down works good. For the money I think that would be the best deal around. The reason that I did not go for it was the limited F to B movement (1-9/16"), spindle to fence-max 1-9/16", and the 4" max chisel to table. You are going to be limited to material size of about 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" or so. I do not know what kind of work you do but if you are only going to be doing small stuff I say go for it. It is $200 cheaper than the General Int'l on sale and I would rather have it because of the vise. The GI has the tilting head which may or may not be a big deal to you. As Jesse said there are other ways to set up to cut angled mortises.

    Then again, you know what I decided to do but don't let that infuence you. If you have any questions about the Wilke stuff talk to Curt. He was very helpful to me and is a woodworker with his own shop. They are probably all helpful but he was the only one that I talked to.

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