mortising machines

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Forum topic by dbw posted 03-27-2018 12:23 PM 1578 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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332 posts in 2239 days

03-27-2018 12:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mortising machine mortise tenon

May I please get y’alls opinion on mortising machines? I’ve never owned/used one and I want to learn how to make m/t joints. I am considering the Rikon 34-260, Rikon 34-255 Jet JBM-5, and the Craftsman 21907. Is there a way of making QUALITY m/t joints without using a mortising machine?

-- measure 3 times, cut once

25 replies so far

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John Smith

2128 posts in 765 days

#1 posted 03-27-2018 12:41 PM

a search through YouTube may give you some pointers.
look for: How to Make Mortise and Tenon Joints with Hand Tools
personally, I don’t have the patience for it. maybe when I get older, I will try it.


-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

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5604 posts in 2953 days

#2 posted 03-27-2018 12:52 PM

I use a plunge router to make the mortises and the table saw to make the tenons.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Andre's profile


2995 posts in 2408 days

#3 posted 03-27-2018 01:17 PM

A Mallet and Mortise Chisel? Get your self a good old English Pig Sticker, dual purpose?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View builtinbkyn's profile


2999 posts in 1542 days

#4 posted 03-27-2018 01:46 PM

Of the machines you listed, the Rikon 34-260 looks to be the best. It has x and y adjustability. Something the Shop Fox benchtop mortiser I had, was lacking. What I found with a benchtop mortiser is it needs a dedicated place to exist. They’re heavy. So moving them about the shop isn’t the thing to be doing. Also, having a larger table/platform to support work is very desirable, especially when working on larger pieces, which also requires dedicated shop space. In the end I sold it off. Didn’t use it much.

There’s lots of good instruction videos on the net for doing M&T by hand or assisted by a router or drill press.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View Mosquito's profile


9993 posts in 2894 days

#5 posted 03-27-2018 02:01 PM

Definitely not a hard thing to do by hand. For starting out with hand cut mortise and tenon joinery, check out one of the more recent Paul Sellers video on it

I’ve tried it and it does work fairly well, though I’ve also done a fair bit of M&T joinery by hand prior to that.

My preferred mortising machine is this one, but it’s not for everyone LOL

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Manitario's profile


2794 posts in 3485 days

#6 posted 03-27-2018 02:33 PM

You definitely don’t need a mortise machine to get nice mortises, it just makes it easier, depending on the machine you have. Otherwise, there are many options to do mortises without a machine; do it by hand/drill out the waste and finish by hand/use or make a router jig eg. the Mortise Pal. I got a General 75-075 a couple years ago when I had a set of shelves to do with 50 mortises in hard maple. Quickest and easiest method of doing mortises by far.

Do yourself a favour though; get a machine with a good board hold-down system (like on the Rikon 34-260) and spend enough money to get a machine with a sliding X-Y table, it makes using it a lot easier.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View a1Jim's profile


117905 posts in 4179 days

#7 posted 03-27-2018 02:55 PM

Yes there are a number of ways to make Morices without a mortiser as others have pointed out but most are not as quick and easy as a mortiser I have a floor model and just bought the Rikon 34-260, that you’re considering, given I’ve just used it for a few motises I can’t give you a full review but I feel it’s a good solid machine with an “X /”Y table that most the other mortisers in that price rang don’t have, the only thing quicker is a domino.


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1496 posts in 3451 days

#8 posted 03-27-2018 04:42 PM

I’ve looked at them many times, and cannot justify the expense for a single use tool given the frequency that I’m cutting M&T. I use my routers, either hand held or table depending on the size of the piece. If I saw a machine on CL near me in the $100 range I may be tempted, but I’ve decided that I’m likely to be more willing to go for a Domino eventually, and would not need the mortiser.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View LesB's profile


2301 posts in 4045 days

#9 posted 03-27-2018 04:42 PM

Unless you expect to make a lot of mortise and tenon joints a dedicated mortising machine is not necessary. As stated you can do it by hand, or use a plunge router and template or add a mortising attachment to your drill press. I did the latter with a Delta attachment for many years. I cut the tenons on the table saw with a tenon jig.

Recently I got a tool called a Pantorouter. It not only makes great mortise and tenons (both) with one set up it also makes dovetail and box joints plus a variety of other applications. It is not inexpensive but the versatility over a dedicated mortiser probably makes it worth it. You can check it out here:

-- Les B, Oregon

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4250 days

#10 posted 03-27-2018 04:49 PM

They aren’t so awfully difficult to make by
hand. You can chain drill them and then
use a chisel. You can just use a chisel. Paul
Sellers has a video showing an efficient method
for cutting them with a regular bevel edge
chisel. I was really surprised how fast he
did it.

Mortisers do make quick work of mortising but
they consume floor space. I like the horizontal
slot mortisers because you can mortise into
end grain with them for loose tenons which is
generally an easier method of work than cutting
tenons perfectly.

View EarlS's profile


3409 posts in 2950 days

#11 posted 03-27-2018 05:23 PM

If you are looking for quality M&T, plan onto spending some time learning how to use whatever method you select to make them. M&T may look easy to make, but there is a lot more to them than just cutting the ends off a board to make a tenon and punching a hole in another piece of wood to make a mortise. I don’t think there is any “best” way to make them. Pick a method and start learning. Plenty of help on LJ as you work through the learning process.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View eflanders's profile


326 posts in 2452 days

#12 posted 03-27-2018 10:21 PM

One thing no one has mentioned yeti is that a mortising machine will produce deeper mortises than a router or domino machine can. I got a used one years ago and wouldn’t give it up just for this reason!

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4250 days

#13 posted 03-27-2018 10:26 PM

One thing no one has mentioned yeti is that a mortising machine will produce deeper mortises than a router or domino machine can. I got a used one years ago and wouldn t give it up just for this reason!

- eflanders

True. They have their uses in making through
mortises for mission furniture. I sold my chisel
mortiser to a guy who was doing that.

View BikerDad's profile


347 posts in 4203 days

#14 posted 03-28-2018 12:05 AM

A key consideration when looking at cutting mortises with a machine is this:

Do you want the ability to do rectilinear THROUGH mortises?

If you do, then a Hollow Chisel Mortiser (or a Drill Press with a HCM attachment) is the only pure machine work game in town. Rectilinear through mortises (RTM) are a signature design element of the various forms of Arts & Crafts (Prairie, G&G, etc) furniture. If you aren’t doing RTM, then any system you choose will work. Router, Router in fancy horizontal table setup, Domino, Drill Press & chisel, slot mortiser. You can do RTM with any of the others, but you have to square the ends of the mortise by hand.

Purportedly, the best current market hobby/light pro grade Hollow Chisel Mortiser is the Powermatic 719, which is a floor model unit that may be out of the preferred price range of the OP. The benchtop models, while a step up from the DP attachment, tend to have mediocre tables/holddowns and are often underpowered. They’re also pretty easy to find used at a hefty discount. One can also occasionally find old iron industrial gems, the absolute opposite of “benchtop”.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

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241 posts in 1026 days

#15 posted 03-28-2018 12:30 AM

I have a Jet mortise machine, I the little that I use it it works great, don’t waste your money on a drill press attachment. You can use a router and jig if you don’t mind round tenons and mortises, there also is a Leigh FIT jig . I like my way with the mortise machine and a tenon jig for rhe table saw.

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