All Replies on Who uses a bench top mortiser?

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View Woodchuck2010's profile

Who uses a bench top mortiser?

by Woodchuck2010
posted 07-28-2016 06:52 PM

28 replies so far

View ste6168's profile


259 posts in 2022 days

#1 posted 07-28-2016 07:11 PM

I don’t have one, but either a benchtop mortiser or a domino is on my list. I am not sure which route I will go when the time comes. For now, my mortise chisels and/or router do the job.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1770 days

#2 posted 07-28-2016 07:23 PM


It looks like the mortiser is discounted about $200 off new. If the hollow mortising chisels are good quality and lightly used and little to no bluing on the chisels, then the value of the deal is further enhanced.

As to whether it represents a value to you is impossible for me to say. It seems to me that question hinges on the number and frequency of mortises you cut and whether you are completely satisfied with the mortises you are now cutting. Your question suggests you have some money for a tool upgrade, so I would think the answer is also impacted by what alternative upgrade you could make if you passed up the mortiser.

I purchased the PM701T (the floor model) a couple of years ago, along with the PM hollow chisel set and a hollow chisel sharpening kit. Almost every project I build includes some mortises. Prior to the PM701T, I made mortises at the drill press. There is no comparison between the drill press and the mortiser. I immediately saw mortises that could be either accurately offset or centered on the work piece. The additional leverage from a long handle made drilling the mortises a little easier. It also keeps the drill press free to drill round holes. I only use the mortiser for about an hour or so per project; otherwise it sets idol. Nonetheless, for me I am satisfied with my upgrade and I am less aggravated when making tenons.

View Woodchuck2010's profile


745 posts in 1709 days

#3 posted 07-28-2016 07:37 PM

I really haven’t done much with M/T joinery, but am interested for future “better” furniture projects. I guess I don’t really need to have it, but you always think about the one that got away when you finally decide to get one. hahaha

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1599 days

#4 posted 07-28-2016 07:42 PM

I have a Jet JBM5 mortiser. I use it every now and then and really appreciate it when I am using it. The Powermatic would be a big step up and great to have. I’ll swap ya…

I’d buy it in a heartbeat, but that’s just me.

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1752 days

#5 posted 07-28-2016 07:45 PM

I would buy the powermatic just to build things that use mortise and tenon joints. If you would use mortises for 20% of your products i would consider it. I had a smaller delta mortiser that wasn’t that great and i loved using it.
Spending the money on good chisels will help a lot. i would offer 275 if the chisels are dull or blued. good luck

View mountainaxe's profile


157 posts in 3356 days

#6 posted 07-28-2016 11:02 PM

Worth every penny…can’t tell you how wonderful this Mortiser is…and at at great price. Buy it.

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

View teejk02's profile


504 posts in 1976 days

#7 posted 07-28-2016 11:24 PM

I do mostly mission style furniture. The mortiser doesn’t get used much but I paid about $300 for it (with 4 bits/chisels) and would not sell it. I have it mounted on a wheeled bench behind my miter saw. Small footprint.

View ChuckV's profile


3331 posts in 4378 days

#8 posted 07-28-2016 11:40 PM

I have the PM701, and it is a great machine. Sometimes I get into a pattern of making projects that do not use M&T joinery. The mortiser sits there taking up very little room. Then I do something like the four bookcases that I am currently making, and having this machine makes life so much better!

If it is in good shape, I would go for it.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View greenacres2's profile


355 posts in 3018 days

#9 posted 07-28-2016 11:56 PM

I have the Jet mentioned earlier, and as others have said…I don’t use it often but when I do it earns its keep. I’m driving over to Toledo, OH this weekend to pick up a few things from a guy—he has a Shop Fox mortise that I think he’s asking $165 for. Doesn’t appear to be the equal of the PM, but might be a way to test the water for somebody.

View robscastle's profile


7327 posts in 3054 days

#10 posted 07-29-2016 12:00 AM

I have a bench top mortiser and I did several blogs on getting it to work like a dream

I dont use it very much and unless you have a definate need for one look forward to it taking up bench space for most of its life, which mine does, however after using it its a useful tool to have even if used infrequently.

If you wanted you could use it as a bench drill as a secondary role.
You will need long drill bits to utilise it.

At the current price I think its good value for money, the PM701 is a similar mortiser to mine.

-- Regards Rob

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3486 days

#11 posted 07-29-2016 01:03 PM

I have the bench top powermatic and its worth it’s weight in gold when you need to cut a lot of mortises. I bought it to make a crib which was over 100 mortises. To be honest I haven’t used it much since, but when you do use it it saves a bunch of time. The domino is a lot more versatile and quick, but for traditional square mortises the powermatic can’t be beat for the price. A buddy bought a craftsman mortises and had all kinds of troubles. He bought another used jet and figured he would piece together one good machine. He hasn’t gotten either to work well and regrets it a bit. If you want a mortiser, the powermatic is the minimum quality worth buying, that is if you see the need. It doesn’t make perfect mortises, but if you have a lot of them it doesn’t matter as much if some holes are a bit rough.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3297 days

#12 posted 07-29-2016 01:34 PM

I’m saving up for a Domino.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View TheDane's profile


5848 posts in 4513 days

#13 posted 07-29-2016 01:54 PM

I have a Jet bench-top mortiser (JBM-5) ... I have had it for about 10 years now, and consider it a good investment for my home workshop.

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16904 posts in 3469 days

#14 posted 07-29-2016 05:58 PM

I have a Steel City BTM and love it.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View TheFridge's profile


10861 posts in 2336 days

#15 posted 07-29-2016 06:07 PM

When you need it for tables and chairs and other stuff like that, it can really bang mortises out.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View TheGreatJon's profile


348 posts in 2084 days

#16 posted 07-29-2016 06:31 PM

-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6206 posts in 3664 days

#17 posted 07-29-2016 07:11 PM

I started with a Delta benchtop mortiser, and it did a lot of work for me. I broke the hub on the handle, and stripped out a few plastic knobs but it was repairable. The PM is heavy duty compared to most benchtop units, and I think it will serve you well.

I have since upgraded to a Jet floor standing mortiser with sliding X-Y table. It has more power and much more leverage than my old unit. My biggest complaint about the benchtop unit was you really had to use your hand like a vice to hold the workpiece against the fence. After 20 or 30 mortises it becomes tiring. The floor models use a large clamp to hold the workpiece against the fence. The PM 701 uses adjustable roller wheels, which my Delta didn’t have.

I would go for it. I think you’ll be happy to have a dedicated mortiser. Once M&T joints are easy to make, you find yourself using them more often.

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

View bruc101's profile


1384 posts in 4392 days

#18 posted 07-29-2016 07:38 PM

I’ve go to reproduce a Chippendale Highboy starting sometime this fall. It has 85 mortises in it and my machine will get a workout and I’ll be thanking it all the way.

I build a lot of farm tables, sofa, occasional, end tables and they’re all mortised together. The machine is a staple fixture in my shop. When I’m not using it I can see it sitting on the bench ready to go when I do need it.

I would buy that machine and never look back.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6984 posts in 4045 days

#19 posted 07-29-2016 07:47 PM

I have one…!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Robert's profile


3941 posts in 2331 days

#20 posted 07-29-2016 09:27 PM

I snagged a PM floor model for $400 last year (gloat, gloat) because I had two workbenches to build.

Saved me a TON of time.

Although I don’t use it that much, I think they are worth the money if you build a lot of furniture.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Woodchuck2010's profile


745 posts in 1709 days

#21 posted 07-30-2016 12:49 AM

I snagged a PM floor model for $400 last year (gloat, gloat) because I had two workbenches to build.

Saved me a TON of time.

Although I don t use it that much, I think they are worth the money if you build a lot of furniture.

- rwe2156

Dang dude! One of the best deals of the year.

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View runswithscissors's profile


3113 posts in 2875 days

#22 posted 07-31-2016 12:41 AM

I have the Delta “deluxe” model bench top mortiser. Modified it to have an x-y table, which is very handy when doing a lot of mortises or long ones. You can do a search on LJ to see a writeup I did.

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

View MrRon's profile


5934 posts in 4094 days

#23 posted 07-31-2016 07:26 PM

I don’t do M&T joints much, so I bought a HF mortiser and put an X/Y compound and vise on it. The chisels are not the best, but it does an acceptable job. If I were doing mortise joints more often, I would consider a better machine.

View Woodchuck2010's profile


745 posts in 1709 days

#24 posted 08-05-2016 12:39 AM

I passed on the mortiser. I couldn’t justify the price even though it was good. I just don’t do M/T.

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 2242 days

#25 posted 08-05-2016 11:53 AM, what you’re saying is that somebody else grabbed it while we were sitting around discussing it with you. :)

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3147 days

#26 posted 08-05-2016 12:09 PM

It’s not just the cost of the mortiser – add the cost of a good tenoning jig for your table saw.

View Woodchuck2010's profile


745 posts in 1709 days

#27 posted 08-05-2016 12:30 PM, what you re saying is that somebody else grabbed it while we were sitting around discussing it with you. :)

- JeffP

Hahaha. Nope. He’s still got it. He called me again and I said no but thank you. You want his number?

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View Woodchuck2010's profile


745 posts in 1709 days

#28 posted 08-05-2016 02:22 PM

It s not just the cost of the mortiser – add the cost of a good tenoning jig for your table saw.

- dhazelton

I’ve had a tenoning jig for about 20 years or so. It’s a Delta. I haven’t used it much either.

-- Chuck, Michigan,

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