Post Flood Dilemma: Do I replace my mortiser?

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Forum topic by thiel posted 10-14-2011 03:06 AM 1539 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View thiel's profile


407 posts in 3772 days

10-14-2011 03:06 AM


As some of you know, my shop was submerged (8ft deep) in Irene. I was insured, so while it’s been a lot of work to get cleaned up, I’ve had great help. (And really there are worse things in the world than buying all new tools with someone elses money!)

What I’m struggling with is some of the decision making. My shop has always been adequate, but a bit cramped, and with the insurance money I have the opportunity to really pick and choose what I want. So far, I’ve purchased a Sawstop and lots of Festool gear (as I said, there are worse things!) and I’ve been refurbishing some of my larger machines (dust collector, bandsaw, lathe, workbench…)

Here’s my dilemma: do I refurbish/replace my PM 701 mortiser? I am thinking of NOT doing it, instead investing in the largest festool router to plunge mortises. Also, I am getting a new drill press and I’ve decided on the Delta 18-800L which has a six inch quill stroke. I’m thinking that between those two tools, I should be very close to the power/mortise capacity of the PM 701, but I’ll be saving some shop space at the same time and maybe even have better flexibility.



-- --Thiel

10 replies so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


7730 posts in 3280 days

#1 posted 10-14-2011 03:19 AM

I say skip the mortiser. I hardly every use mine anymore. Instead, consider a homemade router mortising machine like the pantarouter on

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View thiel's profile


407 posts in 3772 days

#2 posted 10-14-2011 03:37 AM

Skarp… I was thinking more about plunge depth than power…. I think it plunges more than three inches!

-- --Thiel

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4128 days

#3 posted 10-14-2011 03:40 AM

Plunge router mortising is fatiguing and you will burn out the router doing
it in a production setting – even a Festool.

If you just do occasional hobby mortising who cares, but for production
a router just won’t last like a hollow-chisel or horizontal machine.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3478 days

#4 posted 10-14-2011 03:52 AM

It really depends on what kind of work you are doing. Do you do enough mortising to justify a dedicated machine? I would say that a high quality drill press with a mortising attachment is more capable than a benchtop mortiser anyway.

If you are on the fence about it, wait.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3155 days

#5 posted 10-14-2011 04:30 AM

I think that is good advice From David K. Wait until you see the need for mortises then decide whether you want to lay out the cash and how much you really want to spend. I agree that they are much nicer that a router and do a very nice job. They will outlast a router in many cases.

View thiel's profile


407 posts in 3772 days

#6 posted 10-14-2011 05:56 AM

I am just a hobbyist. I don’t do all that much mortising so I’m more concerned about capability than durability…

-- --Thiel

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4128 days

#7 posted 10-14-2011 05:04 PM

thiel, since this is for hobby and you don’t do much mortising – there is really no need for a production mortiser that takes space, and requires maintenance on your part. a good drill press and any decent router can produce mortises once in a while just as good (with jigs and proper setup of course).

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

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3712 days

#8 posted 10-14-2011 05:13 PM

Drill press mortising is a PAINFUL process. Even my cheapo HF mortiser is light years better than using a drill press for that task… Never done mortises with a router though. You’d either have to square up the mortises by hand, or round off the ends of all your tenons. Either process is time consuming compared to just cutting your mortises square with a dedicated mortiser. I guess if you don’t mind the set up time, and space is that much of an issue for you, just go with a drill press mortising attachment…

General Tool I believe has a new M&T router jig that is rumored to be a real winner. Might be worth checking out…

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View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4241 days

#9 posted 10-14-2011 05:25 PM


Here’s a totally different thought. Since it appears that you are a “hobbiest” rather than a production woodworker, give some serious thought to embracing more of the traditional hand tool woodworking.

At the recent WIA conference I saw just how fast and accurate mortises and tennons can be cut with the proper hand tools on a good work bench, and a good work bench should definitely be on your list.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View ChuckC's profile


843 posts in 3415 days

#10 posted 10-14-2011 05:40 PM

How about a smaller bench-top mortiser? You can stick it on a shelf when it’s not needed.

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