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View DocSavage45's profile

Best low cost Mortise machine?

by DocSavage45
posted 07-27-2020 10:40 PM


41 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3402 posts in 2674 days


#1 posted 07-27-2020 11:49 PM

Doc I don’t know what your answer is. Your post reminds me of a sign I saw .

Good Luck

-- Aj

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

2894 posts in 2284 days


#2 posted 07-28-2020 12:00 AM

Not sure what price range you’re considering low cost but I’ll say this- the PM701 is king of the benchtop machines. I have loved mine, it’s about to be for sale and I could ship to you if you’re interested.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

6210 posts in 3690 days


#3 posted 07-28-2020 12:48 AM

I started with a Delta benchtop, and it made a lot of mortises for me, but in the end didn’t hold up well.

I switched to a Jet floor model and have been very pleased. Even the same hollow chisels worked better in the floor model and cut cleaner holes.

If I were to limit myself to a benchtop unit, I’d be looking at the Powermatic and not much else.

Good luck in your search!

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

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#4 posted 07-28-2020 01:33 AM

AJ , lol! That’s proving true!

But they’re all getting less cheap?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#5 posted 07-28-2020 01:38 AM

Willie,

Looks like another item above my budget. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Andre's profile

Andre

3731 posts in 2682 days


#6 posted 07-28-2020 02:23 AM

Around these parts the General is the best opition, the Rikon maybe for hoby use? I keep wanting to buy one but really can not justify the cost verse limited use? Never know the right deal may show up:) Till then the pig sticker stays busy.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#7 posted 07-28-2020 02:26 AM

Andre,

Haven’t seen the general on google search or Amazon! ??

Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6411 posts in 1450 days


#8 posted 07-28-2020 06:30 AM

You likely won’t see a lot of love for the Harbor Freight benchtop mortiser, but I look at them differently than most. I see them as a lever that you pull down to get the important part of the system, the extra sharp chisel, and pretty sharp bit down, and into the board you are mortising. Broken down into the smallest variable, that is pretty much all they are.

I have used a PM, and yes they have “gadgets” down to a science, and the options are good. BUT, they cost soooo much $$$$$$$$

The thing to know here is the HF bit/chisels are absolute JUNK, so you do have to spring for a really good set in the sizes you need for your work. Or just buy the sets as you need different sizes.

For them I'm going to suggest the Fisch.

https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/fish-premium-mortise-chisel-bit.aspx

If you are going to be working with 3/4” stock, just get the 3/8” set. And yes on my cheap HF mortiser I can punch out great mortises as quickly as someone with a 600 dollah PM. Along with the Fisch set, just get a good flat plate diamond stone (fine), and a set of those bell shaped honing cones for getting the inside of the mortise bit nice and sharp, because the sharp chisels is the thing you do need. Absolutely.

Lee Valley sells the best cones I have used. Drill press mounted.

https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/tools/sharpening/files-and-hones/100265-large-cone-sharpeners-for-premium-hollow-mortise-chisels-and-bits?item=77J8122

-- Think safe, be safe

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

6094 posts in 3185 days


#9 posted 07-28-2020 07:06 AM

For the OP

What is your budget in dollars and cents. Might save a lot of time.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

2167 posts in 3060 days


#10 posted 07-28-2020 02:38 PM

I have the Rikon with the X-Y table, and it’s not bad after dialing it in, with sharp/honed chisels. It’s nice to be able to lock the piece down and then start cutting the mortise with just a handwheel.

The X-Y table isn’t the most user friendly, as you have to readjust various settings based on the width and height of the piece using hex keys. But once you understand how it works it’s fairly quick to set up, and you can bash out mortises very fast.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1330 posts in 1836 days


#11 posted 07-28-2020 02:41 PM

Still using the Jet mortiser. Works fine…

View woodetal's profile

woodetal

76 posts in 649 days


#12 posted 07-28-2020 03:03 PM

Making LOTS of Stickley spindle side Morris chairs, tables, beds and ottomans, I switched to a HF bench top. That lasted about a week. I went all in with a PM dedicated mortise, XY tables and solid clamp system. It is heavy, sturdy and does the job. The hold down feature and the XY table are nice. My gripe is that the cabinet floor model is NOT a working height. So, you either sit at an uncomfortable height or stand at a really uncomfortable position. And, you will need to get up and down to adjust stock and set the mortise. If I had space I would take the PM off the cabinet and mount it to a bench. Sadly, not enough space to do that. I agree with the sharp chisels. A wise person once told me and continues to tell me: Spend the most on what you use the most. I used the PM mortise LOTS so it was one of the few higher cost purchases. Best.

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#13 posted 07-28-2020 09:14 PM

woodetal,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Ho more Harbor Freight Mortisers

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#14 posted 07-28-2020 09:14 PM

JackDuren,

Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#15 posted 07-28-2020 09:16 PM

shampeon,

Your experience helps! Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#16 posted 07-28-2020 09:20 PM

AlaskGuy,

When I first decided I wanted a mortiser it was many years ago. I’m now back to production mode but funds are limited.

The experience of LJ’s has helped decision making. sometimes there are true gems and other times not.

I’m appreciative of all who share their knowledge. good and bad.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#17 posted 07-28-2020 09:25 PM

therealSteveN,

Thankyou for the detailed response and suggestions.

Harbor Freight no longer sells a mortiser, and as mentioned earlier in this thread we should buy the best we can afford.

Will look into your recommendations!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

2894 posts in 2284 days


#18 posted 07-28-2020 10:27 PM

If you decide you want a good one start watching machinery auctions, that’s how I found this one! Hit me up if you want help shipping one

Here’s my oliver

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#19 posted 07-28-2020 11:37 PM

GrantA,

My shop is tooooo smallllll. LOL! Thanks

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

118142 posts in 4453 days


#20 posted 07-28-2020 11:56 PM

All of the cheap ones I’ve used were close to worthless I have two, one is a floor model that I would never recommend because of who sells it and the Rikon X/Y mortiser ,of all of them I’ve used I like it best , but I’ve never used powermatic and a number of others. The Rikon is only cheap when you compare it with machines like Powermatic.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#21 posted 07-29-2020 01:50 AM

Jim,

Thanks for your thoughts. Thought it would improve efficiency. But right now I’ve more time than money.

Stay healthy!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

2894 posts in 2284 days


#22 posted 07-29-2020 01:52 AM

Doc there’s nothing at all wrong with a drill press and some decent chisels!!

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

118142 posts in 4453 days


#23 posted 07-29-2020 02:20 AM

Your welcome Buddy , You might try the drill press attachment morticer ,I’ve had students use them with success,I tried one years ago and it kept falling off of the chuck.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#24 posted 07-29-2020 02:23 AM

LOL!

Have the original Delta Mortiser attachments with Norm’s picture on the box. My floor stand drill press requires removal of hardware before attaching the the mortising chisels.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Eeyore's profile

Eeyore

60 posts in 92 days


#25 posted 07-29-2020 12:32 PM

I have also gotten good results with the Rikon X/Y table, and Woodcraft has all their Rikon stuff at 15% off right now. That saves $67 on the mortiser. If you’re going to buy it, might as well spend a little less.
That said, Powermatic is not just about gadgets. The PM motor is 3/4 HP and the Rikon motor is only 1/2 HP. I used a borrowed PM for an entire day and never jammed it once. I jam up the Rikon all the time if I’m not careful.

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

View Icantthinkofaname's profile

Icantthinkofaname

5 posts in 83 days


#26 posted 07-29-2020 12:49 PM

I have learned the hard way with buying cheaper tools. They failed me or did not perform adequately for the job at hand, thus leading me to sell them or junk them. I determined that the motto ‘buy once, cry once’ is very applicable in this line of work. Although you may pay more for a quality item, it will repay you in time saved, quality outcomes, and overall price expenditure since you won’t have to replace it.

The initial cost may seem over your budget, but the overall cost will far exceed your budget if you cut corners and opt for a cheaper (now) solution. Without knowing your budget, it’s hard to make a recommendation. Budget and money are relative to all.

View 23tony's profile

23tony

65 posts in 1046 days


#27 posted 07-29-2020 04:11 PM


I have learned the hard way with buying cheaper tools. They failed me or did not perform adequately for the job at hand, thus leading me to sell them or junk them. I determined that the motto ‘buy once, cry once’ is very applicable in this line of work. Although you may pay more for a quality item, it will repay you in time saved, quality outcomes, and overall price expenditure since you won’t have to replace it.

The initial cost may seem over your budget, but the overall cost will far exceed your budget if you cut corners and opt for a cheaper (now) solution. Without knowing your budget, it’s hard to make a recommendation. Budget and money are relative to all.

- Icantthinkofaname

From my experience, I would have to agree completely with this. I’ve spent more money buying cheap tools than I would have getting good ones to begin with.

View Jared_S's profile

Jared_S

401 posts in 836 days


#28 posted 07-29-2020 07:01 PM

I had a jet before I upgraded to a Oliver floor model. It worked well enough. The problem is lack of a xy table on most of the inexpensive benchtop models.

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

3118 posts in 2901 days


#29 posted 08-06-2020 01:12 AM

I started with the Delta mortiser. Then, when I had to do a lot of mortises, I fabricated an X-Y table using heavy aluminum extrusions and rack and pinion gear to move left to right. I also incorporated quick-locking hold downs to speed things up. It all worked great. I did a post on this, with photos, back in 2014.

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

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#30 posted 08-06-2020 01:19 AM

Thanks for the additional input.

Will probably do it by hand or use my delta attachments for my drill press for awhile as it’s looking like a better tool is more than I can justify right now.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

2894 posts in 2284 days


#31 posted 08-06-2020 01:27 AM

Doc I didn’t scroll back through all of the replies but I don’t recall a router setup being mentioned. Have you considered a horizontal router table? Or if you need repetitive mortises you could do just fine with templates for a plunge router.
Plenty of ways to skin that cat

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#32 posted 08-06-2020 01:29 AM

GrantA,

Last Mortise and tenon joints started with my plunge router,

Thanks for the suggestion.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1084 posts in 1055 days


#33 posted 08-06-2020 01:51 AM

Festool domino

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#34 posted 08-06-2020 01:56 AM

LOL,

Low cost? 1000 dollars?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1084 posts in 1055 days


#35 posted 08-06-2020 02:42 AM



I m now back to production mode
- DocSavage45

Maybe I took this the wrong way. Production mode sounds like you are trying to make money at something? In my very limited experience, the domino seems like a very quick and effective solution.

Personally hobby or otherwise, no way would I spend 3-500 on a bench top mortiser when the domino is not far off at 1000$.

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

1155 posts in 787 days


#36 posted 08-06-2020 02:55 AM

With the mortise machine purchase on hold. Have you considered making a ‘Horizontal Router Station’ to make the mortises. When making mortises I use the drill press or the router table. I almost bought the Rikon through Menards. Can save 11% with the Menards rebate. I’ve also checked on several DIY horizontal router plans to make mortises, but I would still get a chisel out for the corners.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

118142 posts in 4453 days


#37 posted 08-06-2020 03:48 AM

Tom,Wooden dreams post reminded me that long before I had a moticer I made my rough version of a shop made multi router and made all of my mortises and tenons on this shop made multi router,it looked very rough but worked fine.

https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/34189

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#38 posted 08-06-2020 04:06 AM

2010,

Jim thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9019 posts in 3719 days


#39 posted 08-06-2020 04:08 AM

CWWoodworking,

Production mode is putting my art furniture projects into production. If they attract interest I can justify spending more money? Just looking into a benchtop unit that might improve my efficiency.

Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6411 posts in 1450 days


#40 posted 08-06-2020 04:21 AM



Tom,Wooden dreams post reminded me that long before I had a moticer I made my rough version of a shop made multi router and made all of my mortises and tenons on this shop made multi router,it looked very rough but worked fine.

https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/34189

- a1Jim

Jim, I think using a router for loose M&T’s is the lowest price way to get in that door. I have finally gotten a Domino, but resisted a long time because I have a horizontal router, and it’s bring the work to the tool, but it does work. I agree with CWW that the Domino is the quickest, if not the lowest priced way to get it all done. Unless you are doing through M&T, the joint hardly differs once the glue dries. But with the horizontal router, you can make one of BB Ply for < 200 bux. Throw a PC 690 in it, and go.

-- Think safe, be safe

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1084 posts in 1055 days


#41 posted 08-06-2020 09:33 AM


CWWoodworking,

Production mode is putting my art furniture projects into production. If they attract interest I can justify spending more money? Just looking into a benchtop unit that might improve my efficiency.

Thanks!

- DocSavage45

My comments come from experience of taking the cheap route too many times and regretting it. I splurged 2 times and don’t regret a cent. If fact I wish in both instances I did it earlier.

If the domino fits what your doing, it’s barely a reach to go from an investment of 3-500$(small, mortiser or router) to the domino.

Maybe post a pic of what your building? Might help determine the right tool for the job.

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