Shop Fox W1671 3/4 HP Heavy-duty Mortising Machine

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Review by Tom Coster posted 09-01-2010 11:05 PM 22730 views 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shop Fox W1671 3/4 HP Heavy-duty Mortising Machine No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Ok, I admit it, I am a tool junkie. What I lack in skill I make up in tool savvy. That said I have never owned a mortise machine so take that into consideration when putting any value to this review. I did do some serious research before buying as this will be my last tool for a while as my wife has threaten to cave my skull in with a cast iron frying pan while I sleep if I buy any more. Let’s get to the heart of the matter; The Shop Fox is inexpensive. I paid $245 + $44 shipping at Grizzly thru Amazon. (And wouldn’t you know it I found it the next day on the shelf at a local store for $239.00. Go figure!) Every review I read before buying mentioned at least one complaint. Mostly to do with low quality fasteners, poor finish on the casting or low quality paint. Yet almost everyone gave this mortise machine pretty high marks. The reason: This tool works well and judging from reviews of other manufactures, it does the job better than most. Sure, you see one out of a few reviews really punking it down. But I figure if you buy a Toyota and you find it doesn’t handle like a Mercedes Benz you have no right to complain. I had a few pieces of hardwood laying around that the locals call swamp oak. Very hard stuff. Brutal to drive a nail thru. I could not make this mortise choke down on this stuff. The bit and chisel set up that came with the machine works well. Ran a few holes in soft pine and it did not crush the edges of the mortise. But I do suspect that the bit is low quality and will need to be replaced with extended use. Yes, the table is very cheap but hey, I might be able to talk my wife into letting me buy another tool to make a better one! All in all, I am satisfied with the machine and it will be a great help making those kitchen cabinets I have been promising my wife for the last five years.

-- Tom, MI, SC

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Tom Coster

120 posts in 3639 days

14 comments so far

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4286 days

#1 posted 09-02-2010 04:48 AM

One of the magazines rated it best value. It came down to the Powermatic and ShopFox. Both have a 3/4hp motor. PC is $399 (currently) with one or no bits and ShopFox $299 with a few bits, they gave the nod to the ShopFox. Since the mortising machine is a one trick pony, alot of folks would rather spend their hard earned $$$ on a multipurpose tool, like a router or two or three. But of all the tools I own and use, and I do have one sweet wife who looks past my tool addiction for my better traits, to be determined at a future date, I still lust after a dedicated mortising machine, which I don’t own. Good luck with yours. You should build a few mortised garden benches just to break it in…

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3875 days

#2 posted 09-02-2010 04:07 PM

Thank you for a well written review.

I seriously considered the Shop Fox when I bought my Jet bench top mortising machine. The one specification that drove me to the Jet was the speed of the drill. I believe the Shop Fox runs at 3450 rpm and the Jet is half that. Based on my experience on the drill press, I felt 3450 rpm was just too fast.

Maybe this is not such a big issue. I would be interested in any comments on this aspect of the machine.

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

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4032 days

#3 posted 09-02-2010 05:04 PM

Thanks for the review. I keep looking at the bench top mortisers, but just can’t seem to bite the bullet, I have had good success with the old drill press and chisel method… Maybe one of these days I will add one to my arsenal.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3667 days

#4 posted 09-02-2010 05:29 PM

“I did do some serious research before buying as this will be my last tool for a while as my wife has threaten to cave my skull in with a cast iron frying pan while I sleep if I buy any more.”

Now how many times have I heard a fella on Lumberjocks say that “This will be my last tool for a while”. Could you elaborate on what “a while” means? Does it mean ten days, a week, 3 days, or “I won’t buy another tool before this weekend” ? :-)

Seriously, though, that does look like a great tool!!! Congratulations. BTW, the next tool that you get just sneak it through the back door. She won’t find out.

You should have seen the look on my wife’s face the other day when I told her that I ordered my new dovetail saw and was expecting it to come in any day, now. She didn’t say a thing but I sure would have loved to have a picture of her face when I told her about it. LOL

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View denovich's profile


30 posts in 3624 days

#5 posted 09-02-2010 05:31 PM

$238.57 on Amazon right now. I’m an amazon prime member… so free 2-day shipping. Coulda had it tomorrow for an extra $5, but I think I’ll survive waiting for it to be delivered on Saturday.

3rd tool purchase since I declared last week “I think that is the last of the tool purchases.”

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4966 days

#6 posted 09-02-2010 06:20 PM

Tom Coster,
I have owned the same exact machine for about 2 years now and can not find a thing about that I don’t like. The 3450rpm range mentioned above works out fine in my opinion. There is no burning of the wood, the holes are crisp and clean and I believe that it actually helps in evacuation of wood chips. The chuck on this model is also bigger than most other machines in this class at 1/2” where most others give you a 3/8” capacity. The ability to mount the tool so that you can drill vertically into any length stock is also an added plus, I’ve only used it once for this application though. I would not trade or try to do with out mine after having made a ton of mortises over the last two years and taking on some jobs I would have avoided if I had been faced with all the chisel work I had employed in the past. This is one of the few tools I’ve owned that I would actually give a Five star rating.

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View Tom Coster's profile

Tom Coster

120 posts in 3639 days

#7 posted 09-08-2010 12:03 AM

I can’t complain about tool purchases too much. The wife has been very understanding. I just got into serious wood working over the last year. I say serious woodworking because I’ve done carpentry work on and off my whole life but it’s not the same as building furniture. The tools I had where early ‘80 and contractor grade. So it was time to upgrade.
I feel that it just wouldn’t be fair to complain about the Shop Fox mortiser. A lot of people still do. Mostly about fit and finish. My thinking on this is the company is cutting cost so that they can turn out a better design and still stay competitive on price. And let’s face it; we are talking the bottom of the price range here. All these companies are turning out cheaper, lighter, lower quality tools. Their intentions are to capture a market that in the past couldn’t justify the expense of a big cast iron commercial grade mortising machine. The Dewalt planers are another great example. A great tool but if you really examine the materials they are constructed with you can see they are cheaply built. But if they were built with better material they would have to price it out of their attended market.
I really don’t feel that I have enough experience with a lower RPM machine to make a fair comparison. I have been around older, larger machines that spin slower. As I remember their bits seemed to have made a lot more noise. But I have not had any problems with the RPM’s of the Shop Fox. Nice clean cuts with no burn. I have to agree with WoodButcher, the higher speed does really spit the chips out.

-- Tom, MI, SC

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3804 days

#8 posted 11-09-2010 04:05 AM

All I can say is: I want one, can justify one, but can not afford it at this time

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2906 days

#9 posted 08-21-2012 01:56 AM

I bought this very machine in February 2012. Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! Only drawback is the hold down aparatus. It is workable, but not well with smaller pieces. That is overcome on my part with some handy scrap pieces and often my Kreg clamps (for my pocket hole rig). A minor annoyance in an otherwise great machine.

Overall I agree with the 4 stars and would probably give it 4 1/2 if I could.

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

View Dustin's profile


393 posts in 4250 days

#10 posted 01-02-2013 03:25 PM

I enjoy my mortiser a lot. It just works. And I can remove the table and mortise long pieces easily. This is a great machine for how inexpensive it is.

View Dustin's profile


393 posts in 4250 days

#11 posted 01-02-2013 03:44 PM

I enjoy my mortiser a lot. It just works. And I can remove the table and mortise long pieces easily

View gearupflapsup's profile


16 posts in 2731 days

#12 posted 05-16-2013 12:33 PM

Wood Magazine May 2012 listed this unit as a best buy for the price point. So I ordered one yesterday. Shipping weight is 90lbs so I had to troll around from free shipping and a $299.00 price. With tools and mail order I use AMEX as the have been flawless at doubling the warranty.

So I’m looking out the window for the toy truck…

View Scott's profile


153 posts in 3773 days

#13 posted 06-13-2013 08:04 PM

I’m interested in this mortiser but I was wondering if someone can explain what is meant by “includes” a 5/8 and 3/4” sleeve?”
Can’t find anything in the owner’s manual on about their use. I would like to be able to do 3/4” mortises on occasion.
Also, will the the 3/4” chisel that Grizzly sells work with this?

View runswithscissors's profile


3105 posts in 2826 days

#14 posted 11-09-2014 10:50 PM

An old post, but it seems nobody answered your question. I believe the 5/8” and 3/4” refer to the collar that the chisel mounts into. Grizzly sells a mortiser that looks a lot like the Delta (and others with a CI column) that has a 5/8” capacity collar. Yet they don’t offer any chisels with a 5/8” shank, only 3/4”. (The machine does come with its own set of chisels). Seems ironic.

Also, I doubt that these bench top machines can handle a 3/4” wide chisel. But you can cut a wide mortise simply by moving the fence and cutting another abutting mortise—a double pass, as it were. Though some have said that you should not overlap the cuts, on the grounds that the chisel will be deflected by the uneven side pressure, I have not found this to be true at all.

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

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