Harbor Freight Mortising Machine

  • Advertise with us
Review by MrRon posted 01-28-2015 06:47 PM 13748 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Harbor Freight Mortising Machine No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought a Harbor Freight mortising machine around 5 years ago and have not used it on a project, other than to test cut. I now have a project that needs mortising, so I tried it out and I was surprised as to how well it worked. I did have to tweak it and make some modifications which are common to most HF tools. I bought an X/Y cross slide vise and mounted it in place of the hold down device. The bit and chisel was not very sharp, so I diamond honed the chisel and the bit. It now cuts quite well. I made 3/8” mortises; measured it with a caliper and it measured 0.376”; pretty good. The cross slide allows me to adjust the work very accurately. I will look for replacement bits/chisels that are better quality and use this machine more. I don’t recall how much I paid for it, but it had to be less than the current $190 price tag. Top name mortising machines go for big bucks, so I would give this tool 2 stars before and 4 stars after mods.

View MrRon's profile


5925 posts in 4049 days

5 comments so far

View Belg1960's profile


1111 posts in 3871 days

#1 posted 01-29-2015 12:34 PM

Ron, just be sure when you buy the replacement chisels that they are long enough. I have a Jet version and Delta bits DON’T FIT!!

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3320 days

#2 posted 02-03-2015 12:20 PM

I bought this model way back in 1999. Cannot remember how many mortises I did, back when I was into reproduction furniture out of oak. It always worked good for me. You just cannot push it, keep the chisels sharp, and the posts lubed up. Have not used mine in a year or more these days. But I’d be hard pushed to sell it. Once in a while, even when you don’t do much cabinetry, you need a mortise. Unless you are doing mortise and tenon all the time, this machine is OK.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4181 days

#3 posted 02-04-2015 05:57 PM

Mine is probably close to 10 years old at this point. Paid ~ $100, and have been really happy with it. I wouldn’t want to make my living with this machine, but for the number of mortises that I do it’s been great.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Derrick's profile


184 posts in 1944 days

#4 posted 03-16-2017 02:32 AM

Nothing useful to add, but I pulled the trigger on one of these today. I went in to buy a couple casters and noticed they are discontinuing this model. It looks like they’re moving to a different brand possibly. it was $98 out the door, so even if it turns out to be a POS, it won’t set me back too much. I’ve kept eyes open on CL for a better branded used one for a while, and have come up empty. I messed around with the 1/4” chisel and it seemed to work fine. The fence/hold down is a joke, but I knew that going into it. The 6” XY vise at HF should solve that problem. I can make things work for the time being. The vise is not a necessity at this point. Overall, the review above seems right in line with the one I just bought.

View Ocelot's profile


2553 posts in 3444 days

#5 posted 03-16-2017 04:13 PM

I picked one up for $50 used a few years ago…. have used it on one project.

I bought an x/y vice, but have not set it up with the vice. It seems like I’ll have some interference between the vice cranks and parts of the mortiser, but I think it can be modified to work around that.

Can you post photos of your set-up?


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics