All Replies on Drill Press w/Mortising Attachment vs Stand Alone Mortiser

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View Brian024's profile

Drill Press w/Mortising Attachment vs Stand Alone Mortiser

by Brian024
posted 12-07-2010 05:31 AM

23 replies so far

View Blakep's profile


232 posts in 3362 days

#1 posted 12-07-2010 05:50 AM

I have a Mortise machine from harbor freight and it works well but you still have to clean them up a little bit with chisels or at least I do. I don’t use it that much so that’s why I went with one from Harbor Freight. I do like having it seperate from My drill press though.

View ClayandNancy's profile


525 posts in 3575 days

#2 posted 12-07-2010 05:51 AM

I have the Jet model and love it. I thought there would be to much changing back and forth when I needed to just drill a hole with the drill press unit.

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 3792 days

#3 posted 12-07-2010 06:01 AM

FWIW, the setup / teardown time alone of a drill press mortising attachment kills any interest for me in one of those. So instead, I would like a dedicated mortiser…. The shop fox 3/4 HP unit looks awfully good to me.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3369 days

#4 posted 12-07-2010 06:01 AM

No contest, the designated mortiser will win everytime. Good luck

View danr's profile


154 posts in 3745 days

#5 posted 12-07-2010 06:06 AM

My input would be to get the dedicated mortiser if the budget allows. Like you, I make lots of mortise/tennon joints and have been doing so for many years.

-Initially, I used a drill and chisel because I was just staring off.

-I then upgraded to a drill press attatchment using the hollow mortise chisels. The main yoke of the attatchement (cast iron) cracked after a limited ammout of use and even when I was using it there was a bit of an alignment issue.

-I then built a mortising machine with a linearly sliding table using a spiral up-cut router bit and router (plans and kit from shop notes). This was a great project and even better, it worked extrememly well. I then had to spend the time, like you, to square up the corners by hand but I enjoyed doing it (not very time efficient).

-I then bought a used (almost like new) JET floor standing mortiser. It works very well and is fast.

So this has been my path over 25 years and like so many other tool experiences, I ask my self “why did I not do this earlier?????” So my moral to this story is, when buying power tools, always, always, always purchase the very best tools that you can afford. I have never regretted it. I’m sure that you will make a good decision.

View PaulJerome's profile


57 posts in 3593 days

#6 posted 12-07-2010 04:36 PM

Unless you’re doing through mortises my question would be why? IMO, the router does a great job and it’s much easier to round the tenon than square the mortise. Save the money.

-- Paul, Central Illinois

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4040 days

#7 posted 12-07-2010 05:10 PM

I think if you do a lot of mortising, I would get a dedicated one. You could get a good bench top machine and build a floor stand for it if you dont want to spend money on the floor model. I have the Powermatic tilting table floor model and its sooooo nice not have to keep re-tooling everytime you want to do something with the drill press.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5234 posts in 4520 days

#8 posted 12-07-2010 05:59 PM

Wanna buy my drill press mortising attachments? That answer your question?

-- [email protected]

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3720 days

#9 posted 12-07-2010 06:05 PM

Definitely dedicated. Reconfiguration is the reason that you don’t see ShopSmiths used(as they are advertised) in too many shops across the country. They work for just a few but from what I’ve seen, folks generally keep them set up for a single task and leave them that way. No, I’m not bashing ShopSmith, from what I’ve seen they are good machines. They(like cobbling a mortiser to your DP) just don’t fit the ‘methods’ of the typical woodworker.

As for the mortiser… I’d strongly suggest building a horizontal router instead.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View TheDane's profile


5706 posts in 4223 days

#10 posted 12-07-2010 06:19 PM

The drill press mortising attachments are harder to setup, and harder to cut deep mortises … most people describe them as ‘finicky’.

If you are using a benchtop drill press, save your money. Most of the attachments are designed for floor models.

With the drill press attachments, you are using the drill press’s feed levers to plunge both the auger and the hollow chisel. If you are working with hardwoods, that can be slow going. The feed levers on most drill presses are short (only a few inches) compared to the handle on a hollow chisel mortiser (my Jet JBM-5’s handle is about 3 times the length of the feed levers on my drill press), which means you gain considerable leverage with the hollow chisel that you can’t get with a drill press.

Check out Tom Hintz’ review at ... to quote Tom: “Unless you hate yourself and enjoy frustration, stay away from these imposters.”


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

View Dennis Mikulski's profile

Dennis Mikulski

23 posts in 4383 days

#11 posted 12-07-2010 06:35 PM

I have a delta 14-651 mortiser. I found out realy fast how much time I can saved. The set up is easy and if you keep the chisels sharp there is little to none in clean up. I would not give mine up for anything.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3634 days

#12 posted 12-07-2010 06:42 PM

I have a mortising machine and I have been disappointed with it. I just don’t get the clean cuts I want very conveniently.

When it comes to joinery we have lots of options these days. After much research, I opted for the Mortise Pal and that has become my preferred method of joinery. I also use pocket holes in some situations and dowels in other situations. The only time I use conventional mortise and tenon is when I want to do a through mortise.

If I had it to do over again, I would not bother with a mortising machine.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View TheDane's profile


5706 posts in 4223 days

#13 posted 12-07-2010 07:20 PM

Rich—Which machine do you have?

I have a Jet JBM-5, supplemented with Rockler’s table and fence and a 2 cone sharpening set. A couple of my chisels are getting a bit worn, but if I lap the outsides, sharpen them with the cones, and use backer boards to prevent blowout, I get clean cuts.


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

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3960 days

#14 posted 12-07-2010 09:23 PM

Thanks for the great input guys. The consensuses seems to be a mortiser, which I was thinking. I don’t have much knowledge about the attachments for drill presses and the main concern I had was how good they work and the amount of setup time. I’ve been looking around and I did notice the Shop Fox is the only bench top with a 3/4 hp motor, all others have a 1/2 hp, plus the thickness of the stock is greater to. The price for the Shop Fox also is less than all others. I did notice that the Ridgid machines at the Home Depot I work at are going down in price every few months. We have about 5 or 6 drill presses in stock so I may get one when the price goes down a lot and grab a drill press then.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3634 days

#15 posted 12-07-2010 09:24 PM

Gerry – I also have a Jet JBM-5, supplemented with Rockler’s table and fence. I’ve not used mine enough to wear anything out.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4040 days

#16 posted 12-07-2010 09:58 PM

Its been a while since I looked at mortising machines, but you might check General out too. It seems to me they had one, if not, the only one, that was a bench top machine that had a tilting head.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4434 days

#17 posted 12-07-2010 10:15 PM

I have the General bench model with the tilting head. The head also rotates 180° so you can cut into something too wide to go on the table. I love it. It runs about $500, though, so it’s more expensive than a lot of the other bench-top mortisers.

-- -- --

View Viking's profile


884 posts in 3755 days

#18 posted 12-07-2010 11:21 PM


I borrowed a drill press motiser and installed on my drill press and used it for an afternoon to see if thet would suffice. It did not and almost pitched it in the scrap pile until I rememberd it was borrowed.

Did some research and the Steel City 25000 mortiser got some very good reviews. We were ready to order one when I stopped by our local Woodcraft and they have their own branded version of the Steel City machine. (Obviously both came from the same plant in China). A few of the features I really liked about the SC mortiser is depth of cut (has 5” stroke and you can get a riser to add another 2+ inches), the large table, and the pull out table extensions.

The only real difference I can see is the Steel City has five year warranty and the Wood River is one year.

We bought the Woodriver on Sale for $249.99 and so far very pleased with it’s performance. Will do a real review after I cut a few more mortises of verying sizes and depths.

Good luck with what ever you select.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4325 days

#19 posted 12-07-2010 11:29 PM

Dedicated for sure…. Plus you to have think about this…. if you buy the attachment for the drill press and then decide to go with the dedicated machine, all that money you spent on the attachment would have made a nice payment on the dedicated. I think I confused myself just then.
- JJ

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3608 days

#20 posted 12-08-2010 03:04 AM

I have the Jet JBM-5 also. After years of drilling, chopping, and cussing, I finally enjoy making mortises. Got mine at Woodcraft last year for $250.

-- Gene T

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3960 days

#21 posted 12-09-2010 04:18 AM

Thanks again for the information guys. I’ll probably wait until the first of the year to buy one, I’ve been selling some stuff on consignment and don’t get the money till the end of the month. I had no idea the Steel City was the same as the Woodriver, but I’ll keep looking around.

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 3873 days

#22 posted 12-12-2010 03:12 AM

Im glad to hear that about the WoodRiver machine.
A little birdie told me I was probably getting one for Christmas—and the birdie wanted to make sure the buyer was making a good buy.
There were no reviews for it yet online and the guy at Woodcraft was honest enough to say that he had no direct knowledge of its qualirty.
So – I was relying strictly on Woodcraft’s reputation.
If I can now rely both on Woodcraft’s and Steel City’s reputation combined—I am comfortable that it will be a quality tool for the money.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3483 days

#23 posted 12-12-2010 03:57 AM

Brian, if you elect to get the ridgid DP from HD be advised the “quill” is 60 mm and most mortising attachments will not fit it.(including delta) The solution is to order a 60mm quill from grizzly. If you try to buy the ridgid it’s 100 bucks, the griz is about 30. Just thought I’d add my $.02.

-- Life is good.

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