I never thought to check for square

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Review by da3t posted 11-29-2018 04:35 AM 3749 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
I never thought to check for square No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

What appealed about this product was both the tilting head and the fact the table slides, at the price point of around $500 CDN. I bought it shortly before we moved 3 years ago so never had much of a chance to use it. One of the hold downs broke during that limited period of usage, and that was replaced without a problem. In the interim i used biscuits and other joinery for the rest of the project. A couple years later I was still unpacking and organizing my shop, and I unpacked it for a project earlier this year, start using it, and began having some issues. At this point, warranty is gone.

Long story short, it turns out that when the hollow chisel is in the mortiser, it is not square to the table. Really? I barely used it, it is still bolted to mini-pallet it came on, and it was moved inside the wood moving crate I got from the store when I bought it. Out of square, really? It’s hard not to come to the conclusion the parts weren’t machined correctly when I picked it up from the store.

It is out by about 1/16” over an inch of travel. I had several pleasant telephone calls with the sales rep, who indicated he couldn’t do much more than send me another chisel to try, acknowledging in the same breath that I’d be better off just buying some decent chisels at Lee Valley. The other chisel he sent was no different, the sides are parallel to the shaft but still not square to the table or parallel to the fence. After that, he said there isn’t anything he can do since it is past the warranty date. I argued that, since the product is really just a couple large pieces of cast iron, there likely is a machining/casting issue not likely to be impacted by the user over a time period of 3 months or 3 years, but that did not hold weight.

I could not find any reviews of this product several years ago when i bought it, so want to share. I guess one learning from the story is that when buying any inexpensive equipment, be sure to check for everything, even simple things like squareness. As always, you usually get what you pay for. And that seems to be a lesson it takes four or five decades of living to truly sink in . . .

I’m using it again now for another project (soft wood, shallow mortises) and am starting to come around to the idea of a Domino, ‘point and shoot joinery’ as someone once said on a podcast. Why don’t those things get cheaper over time?

My options include finding a machine shop to rectify the problem, or getting rid of it and buying a Domino when I can find a project or projects to justify it. I have a fairly small shop now, so the space saving would be nice also.

Hope this helps

View da3t's profile


14 posts in 2924 days

12 comments so far

View Jeff's profile


525 posts in 4002 days

#1 posted 11-29-2018 01:28 PM

First please add the type of equipment to the title. It helps to identify what you’re reviewing better than just a model number.

Second I’m not sure I know what you mean by square to the table. Do you mean perpendicular to the table? If that’s so could the table just be off a little and are you able to shim it to make it level? And just because it’s new from the manufacturer doesn’t mean it’s set up correctly. I’d always expect some alignment or calibration on my part.

Third this equipment is over three years old. Could it have been damaged by moving over that time?

View da3t's profile


14 posts in 2924 days

#2 posted 11-29-2018 04:09 PM

Jeff – when I went through the review posting process, I chose ‘hollow chisel mortiser’ from the drop down menu, I thought that would be captured when posted. You are correct, I meant perpendicular to table, as shown in the picture with the square. Mortises therefore are slightly angled when stock is placed against the fence to make a mortise. I guess I forgot to add that the there is no adjustment feature (in the manual or that the sales rep was aware of) to rectify the situation. So in this case, yes it should be set up correctly to start, since there are no adjustment options like on most equipment.
Their rep also suggested shimming it. I suppose that is possible, but why, on what essentially is brand new equipment? And how? I would have to secure a uniform metal shim beneath the table so it would not slide with the table laterally or move toward or away from the fence.
It sat in the wooden box it was shipped in from the manufacturer for 2 of the last three years, and the movers didn’t damage anything else; the jointer infeed and outfeed tables stayed aligned and were far less protected, so I very much doubt it.

View RobS888's profile


2829 posts in 2653 days

#3 posted 11-29-2018 06:08 PM

I have the Baileigh sliding table mortiser. I think yours is nicer. The table on mine moves on ways. So shimming the table at the back of the ways should be possible.

Here are the ways on my mortiser, the ways that control the front to back could be shimmed up.

I looked at the manual for yours and this would concern me since it seems the head rides on ways and perhaps the screws are set too tight or not all tightened.

I wonder if you could loosen the screws on the head and see if that affects the head to table fence alignment. Then tighten ‘em up while keeping an eye on the squareness.

-- I always knew gun nuts where afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View da3t's profile


14 posts in 2924 days

#4 posted 11-29-2018 08:11 PM

Rob – thanks for looking into this. The offset from perpendicular shown in the picture I posted is after I had already taken that step you mention, they are as tight as possible while still allowing movement. That improved the offset. The only thing I haven’t done, I think, is take apart the motor housing to see if there is some way to adjust the orientation of the chuck.

View go4tech's profile


32 posts in 1833 days

#5 posted 11-30-2018 02:52 AM

Maybe a different way to look at this.

Make a new bed and back fence. Very easy to make square. Made mine out of white oak.

The new bed and back can then be attached to the existing fence. If needed, can be shimmed to match the angle of the chisel.

The benefit is easy to align the chisel parallel to the back wall and does not mar the surface of the mortised piece.

If you want, can send picture.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Unless the will gets in the way.

View Dutchy's profile


3774 posts in 2976 days

#6 posted 12-01-2018 07:28 AM

Two problems are possible:

1 The column isn’t mounted perpendicular to the table
2 The machine fitting of the bit is out of alignment

The machine isn’t made with the possibility to make this alignments. To me it’s clear it’s a manufacturing error. How to solve.

Checking which one it is:

For the column pull the motor unit up and down and check the distance between chisel bit and fence.
For the fitting turn the bus around (Don’t use the lock knob) with the chisel bit in it.

If it’s the column you can shim it. Problem after this fix is that tilting the column isn’t anymore possible
If it is the fitting check the bussing and also the hole in the cast iron head.

I would not be surprised it would be the fitting bus. I hope it’s the last, because that would be easy to fix.


For all readers here you can find the manual


View Dutchy's profile


3774 posts in 2976 days

#7 posted 12-01-2018 07:40 AM

At this point, warranty is gone.

Why, this machine has never been okay from the very beginning. I would consult with the importer, but first you have to find out what is wrong.


View da3t's profile


14 posts in 2924 days

#8 posted 12-01-2018 02:31 PM

Go4tech – that is a fantastic idea, and simple. I don’t even think I need to make a bed, just a slightly tapered back fence. Thanks all for suggestions!

View Mike_D_S's profile


605 posts in 3022 days

#9 posted 12-01-2018 05:17 PM

There are four places that this could be out of alignment. I attached a pic to help visualize.

1. The surface the chisel shoulder rests against may not be ground flat. You can probably dismount it and sand it or grind it flat.
2. The motor is not mounted parallel to the shaft. You should be able to check this by measuring from the tip of the chisel to the shaft and then from the top of the chisel flat to the shaft.
3. The vertical shaft is not perpendicular to the table. Because this tilts and rotates, this will be tough to fix directly, but could be cured by shimming the table.
4. The table is not parallel to the base plate. This might be fixable as one of the posters above pointed out by shimming beneath the ways the table rides on if that’s possible.

For shim material, I recommend aluminum cans. Cut the ends of and cut shim strips form the can body. You can stack them to build the shim thickness in a repeatable way.


-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View da3t's profile


14 posts in 2924 days

#10 posted 12-03-2018 03:08 AM

Mike – yes there is some slop in the table, front to back, and that is likely the most direct route of a semi permanent fix. I am not sure about using cans, but I have some spare aluminum siding I could fashion a rectangle out of, then bend the edges over the base so it would stay in place as the table moved left and right.

Thanks all for the troubleshooting ideas. I posted the review in part to alert others to my experience with this machine and brand, which I think is mainly or entirely Canadian (via Asia). Having all the useful feedback about fixes to rectify the original – in my opinion – substandard manufacturing QA/QC, is a great reminder of the usefulness of this forum!

View Dwain's profile


617 posts in 4667 days

#11 posted 12-10-2018 05:15 PM


Sorry you had to go through this. I am in no way siding with the vendor here, but I wonder what would have happened if you had reached out right after the purchase. WE will never know. Clearly this is a manufacturing issue, and as you said, you get what you pay for. I hope you can find a solid fix so you can use. That being said, I would agree with your interest in the Domino. For a small shop there is nothing better.

Good luck.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View 4wood's profile


49 posts in 761 days

#12 posted 01-14-2019 02:14 AM

Aluminum air conditioning tape makes fantastic shims. Sticky on one side and smooth aluminum on the other. very easy to build up for the exact thickness

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