Powermatic - Benchtop Mortiser, Model PM701 (Rating: 4)

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 ??