Powermatic Benchtop Mortiser, Model PM701

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Review by Don K. posted 07-10-2009 06:02 AM 24465 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Powermatic Benchtop Mortiser, Model PM701 No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

As many of you know, I have had a heck of a time getting a new benchtop mortiser lately. I had a Steel City Mortiser that I loved….and so did my dad. So I ordered him one from Woodcraft for fathers day, after several weeks of no mortiser, I finally got a e-mail from Woodcraft saying that Steel-city had missed three shipping dates and that the did not know when or even IF they would ever get them in. So they offered me a choice…get a full refund on what I paid ($269 on sale) or they would give me a Delta mortiser instead.

Since fathers day was fast approaching I took the Delta, and cleaned up my Steel-city and gave it to my dad for fathers day. A few days later the Delta showed up…and like a dummy I did not open the box right away…a couple of weeks later when I finally did open it…it was broken.

After calling Woodcraft about this and fearing after all this time that they would not help me. Not so….They were very helpful and said “We are very sorry you have had so much problems getting a mortiser from us” “Here is your options…1) a refund, 2) wait three more weeks for the new model Delta they are going to start carrying or 3) get another upgrade and they would send me a Powermatic model PM701”...I of course took the Powermatic.

Now for the machine….it arrived Tuesday and came in “two” boxes…I wondered why and as soon as I opened the first box…I found out Woodcraft had sent me a stand to go with the new mortiser…If you have read my blog about “Oh Crap” to “Oh Boy” there is more info on all Woodcraft had done to make this right….so far for $269 I have received a Powermatic mortiser…”EIGHT” bits AND a stand…now THATS customer service imo.

The machine its self has tons of power, is very quite, has a nice finish and is fairly simple to adjust, install bits etc. The instructions for assembly and how to install the bits are spot on and easy to follow. It has a very handy tool tray to hold your bits and tools out of the way at the back of the machine but with-in easy reach, and has a diamond hone to sharpen the square bits with which is also part of the tool tray. It also has very easy locks to set your depth with and to lock your work in place.

All in all this is a very nice machine….now, why did I give it only four stars instead of five ???
For all of its good quality’s and points…it does have two things that need to be addressed.
1) If you look at the picture above, it shows a straight handle that looks like it would be out of the way and easy to use. The one I received has a curved handle that hugs the machine and is flat across the top to give it a more flat handle to pull down on. Unfortunately with the way the new handle is shaped, it hits the base of the machine way before the drill bit gets close to the bottom…so if your mortising out anything less than two inches…it will not work unless you reposition the handle WAY to the back. And unless it is on a stand or bolted down to your bench, it becomes very easy to tip the machine because instead of pulling straight down…you first have to pull the handle toward you and then down.

2) The fence…as nice as the whole machine is, and as nice and tight as everything is the fence has allot of play in it until you lock it down….once locked there is no play in it….but the fence will move side to side almost a quarter of a inch while it is unlocked while you are trying to set everything up…and sense there are no marks to align the fence…there is a bit of guess work involved in setting up the fence. It is fairly easy to adjust once you have your wood marked, and then set the wood to the bit, and then the fence to the wood. But this seemed like allot of work and guessing to me for such a well known name brand.

As I said…this is a very nice machine with tons of power, smooth and quite….but those two problems seem to be a bit of a pain to me.

But hey…for $269 who’s complaining ??



-- Don S.E. OK

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Don K.

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#1 posted 07-10-2009 06:06 AM

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#2 posted 07-10-2009 06:33 AM

Good review alright. Too bad i don’t have rom for one. Guess I’ll stick to my chisels.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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#3 posted 07-10-2009 06:48 AM

You purchased a great deal and a great mortiser. I have the same mortiser and paid $375 for it about a year ago and did not get a stand or mortising bits. in as few words as possible I can say that i really do like my Powermatic mortiser. Previously I had a Delta mortiser and it also was shipped to me broken. It was am OK machine but not nearly the quality of the Powermatic.

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#4 posted 07-10-2009 01:12 PM

I have used this mortiser before and it was sweet

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Scott Bryan

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#5 posted 07-10-2009 01:53 PM

Don, this is a nice review and it sounds as if you have a quality tool to work with. I have always enjoyed hearing customer service stories like this.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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#6 posted 07-10-2009 04:58 PM

Hi Don

Thank you for a great review. This is the mortiser I was planning on buying. I am going to bolt the machine down and adjusting the fence does not bother me. I think the pluses out way the minuses. You got a great deal and it is nice to hear that Woodcraft has good customer service.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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#7 posted 07-10-2009 05:12 PM

Great review don – thank you! I was waiting for this one.

I am curious why none of the mortiser machines come with a self centering gauge/marking that will help you position/align the part for precise center mortising… not like such rulers are not available.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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Will Mego

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#8 posted 07-10-2009 06:32 PM

And I’m assuming you’re changing or have changed the handle already…

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

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#9 posted 07-11-2009 12:08 AM

Two things:
1. When I was researching this machine some time ago, I read a review that explained you can put the handle in about 10 different positions. I would expect with that kind of flexibility, all bases would be covered.
2. Reviews usually run the gamut. For a good to excellent tool there are usually many positive reviews, some in the middle and maybe one or two negative. I saw one such negative review at and just want to bring it to your attention in the event there is any credence to it. The reviewer mentions a critical gear tooth in the mechanism that he found to be of inferior/insuffiicent strength when it comes to mortising harder woods. You might just want to check it out to assess your own machine. Good luck Buddy!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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Don K.

1075 posts in 4134 days

#10 posted 07-11-2009 01:02 AM

Thanks Lenny, So far this machine has plenty of power, and seems to go through hard wood very easy with out having to bare down on the handle. I would think any machine would have a problem if it is pushed hard through hard wood. I was mortising out some red oak with a 1/2 inch bit and it did fine as long as I eased it into it

As far as the handle….it has 100’s of different positions you can set it at…and left or right. But the way the handle is shaped now it still “Hugs” the machine very tight. If you put the handle straight up and down (Left or right side) like most machines are….it hits the base about two inches before it bottoms out. For now since it is a base/stand….I will just leave the handle toward the back. Once the warranty runs out…or if it gets to be to big of a problem…I will heat up the handle with my torches and bend it the way I want it.

Granted ninety percent of all your mortising jobs will be taller than two inches…but for those few times you are mortising a thin piece or boring all the way through for a through joint…it will not work.

After I did my review I went back and read the directions again to see if I missed something…and I found that they recommend using “Extra long” Bits and not standard bits…and if you do use the standard bits…they give you a chuck extension. But the extension is only 1/2 long…so you still have the same problem.

-- Don S.E. OK

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Don K.

1075 posts in 4134 days

#11 posted 07-11-2009 01:31 AM

One more thing…Do not get me wrong, if any of you think I do not like the machine…I really do like it so far and would highly recommend it to anyone. But I also wanted to do a “Fair” review for those who might be thinking of buying this machine…and point out the few things about it I did not like or may be a problem for some.

No machine is perfect…and all have their little “Quirks” that we may find annoying. This machine has tons more power than my Steel City and goes down through hard wood much easier….But I did like the handle on the old S/C better and the fence was tighter when I was adjusting it.

I also read a negative review about how the hydraulic ram that helps hold up the machine and keeps it from dropping into your work gave out after a couple of years…and he said Powermatic would not stand behind it (Duh…after two years ??) They told him that the ram was not intended to hold up the weight like that and that he should have used the depth stop to lock the head in the up position. FYI…this is not in the directions so if you do buy the machine I would recomend this…of course common sense would say the same thing.

-- Don S.E. OK

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#12 posted 07-11-2009 07:13 PM

he should have used the depth stop to lock the head in the up position.” If they knew that , then it should have been in the Operators manual and not left up to “common sense” as we all know that ”common sense isn’t very common”-Mark Twain

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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#13 posted 07-13-2009 07:05 AM

Enjoy you luck DOG you deserve it!!!!!!!!!!!Blkcherry

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Don K.

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#14 posted 07-13-2009 07:40 AM

LOL…thanks blackcherry.

-- Don S.E. OK

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#15 posted 07-26-2009 04:23 PM

hey don,
that is funny. Woodcraft is really good about fixing mistakes. I paid $300 for my steel city 1 1/2 hp dc. after the 2 months of waiting they gave me the jds (priced at 370) as an even trade.

the owner almost gave me a 1 1/2 hp jet with a canister. I didn’t want to take it. the jet was $400 more expensive. The woodcraft in buffalo just opened. I want them to do well, so they stay here.

I actually wanted the jds system in the first place. however, the steel city went on sale, and I went with the steel city- mainly to save $70. So it worked out better than I planed.

All the employees know me as the “dust collector guy”. LOL. I joke with them if they are going to change my name on the mailing flyer to “the dust collector guy”. I like going to woodcraft more than rockler now. the service is great at both places….. but i’m just a mile away from woodcraft…... really convienent when I’m in the middle of building and realize I need something.

-- There are many ways to skin a cat...... but, the butter knife is not recommended

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