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Best low cost Mortise machine?

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Forum topic by DocSavage45 posted 07-27-2020 10:40 PM 806 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


07-27-2020 10:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mortise machine milling

Hey LJ’s.

Looking for your experiences with Low cost mortise machines.

Looking at what’s available and the critiques and ratings I’ve become concerned.

Prices have gone up compared to routing jigs. And there are issues of quality?

This is a 90 pound average machine. And Grizzly seems to not be fairing well.

Found a Shopfox (new) not from Shopfox on Ebay. ( been having some problems with recent Ebay purchases. )

Sooooooooo!

Looking for recommendations from experienced users? LJ’s have been my go to advisers.

Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher


41 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3325 posts in 2645 days


#1 posted 07-27-2020 11:49 PM

Doc I don’t know what your answer is. Your post reminds me of a sign I saw .

Good Luck

-- Aj

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

2850 posts in 2255 days


#2 posted 07-28-2020 12:00 AM

Not sure what price range you’re considering low cost but I’ll say this- the PM701 is king of the benchtop machines. I have loved mine, it’s about to be for sale and I could ship to you if you’re interested.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

6204 posts in 3661 days


#3 posted 07-28-2020 12:48 AM

I started with a Delta benchtop, and it made a lot of mortises for me, but in the end didn’t hold up well.

I switched to a Jet floor model and have been very pleased. Even the same hollow chisels worked better in the floor model and cut cleaner holes.

If I were to limit myself to a benchtop unit, I’d be looking at the Powermatic and not much else.

Good luck in your search!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


#4 posted 07-28-2020 01:33 AM

AJ , lol! That’s proving true!

But they’re all getting less cheap?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


#5 posted 07-28-2020 01:38 AM

Willie,

Looks like another item above my budget. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Andre's profile

Andre

3693 posts in 2654 days


#6 posted 07-28-2020 02:23 AM

Around these parts the General is the best opition, the Rikon maybe for hoby use? I keep wanting to buy one but really can not justify the cost verse limited use? Never know the right deal may show up:) Till then the pig sticker stays busy.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


#7 posted 07-28-2020 02:26 AM

Andre,

Haven’t seen the general on google search or Amazon! ??

Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6241 posts in 1422 days


#8 posted 07-28-2020 06:30 AM

You likely won’t see a lot of love for the Harbor Freight benchtop mortiser, but I look at them differently than most. I see them as a lever that you pull down to get the important part of the system, the extra sharp chisel, and pretty sharp bit down, and into the board you are mortising. Broken down into the smallest variable, that is pretty much all they are.

I have used a PM, and yes they have “gadgets” down to a science, and the options are good. BUT, they cost soooo much $$$$$$$$

The thing to know here is the HF bit/chisels are absolute JUNK, so you do have to spring for a really good set in the sizes you need for your work. Or just buy the sets as you need different sizes.

For them I'm going to suggest the Fisch.

https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/fish-premium-mortise-chisel-bit.aspx

If you are going to be working with 3/4” stock, just get the 3/8” set. And yes on my cheap HF mortiser I can punch out great mortises as quickly as someone with a 600 dollah PM. Along with the Fisch set, just get a good flat plate diamond stone (fine), and a set of those bell shaped honing cones for getting the inside of the mortise bit nice and sharp, because the sharp chisels is the thing you do need. Absolutely.

Lee Valley sells the best cones I have used. Drill press mounted.

https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/tools/sharpening/files-and-hones/100265-large-cone-sharpeners-for-premium-hollow-mortise-chisels-and-bits?item=77J8122

-- Think safe, be safe

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5984 posts in 3157 days


#9 posted 07-28-2020 07:06 AM

For the OP

What is your budget in dollars and cents. Might save a lot of time.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

2167 posts in 3031 days


#10 posted 07-28-2020 02:38 PM

I have the Rikon with the X-Y table, and it’s not bad after dialing it in, with sharp/honed chisels. It’s nice to be able to lock the piece down and then start cutting the mortise with just a handwheel.

The X-Y table isn’t the most user friendly, as you have to readjust various settings based on the width and height of the piece using hex keys. But once you understand how it works it’s fairly quick to set up, and you can bash out mortises very fast.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1323 posts in 1807 days


#11 posted 07-28-2020 02:41 PM

Still using the Jet mortiser. Works fine…

View woodetal's profile

woodetal

76 posts in 620 days


#12 posted 07-28-2020 03:03 PM

Making LOTS of Stickley spindle side Morris chairs, tables, beds and ottomans, I switched to a HF bench top. That lasted about a week. I went all in with a PM dedicated mortise, XY tables and solid clamp system. It is heavy, sturdy and does the job. The hold down feature and the XY table are nice. My gripe is that the cabinet floor model is NOT a working height. So, you either sit at an uncomfortable height or stand at a really uncomfortable position. And, you will need to get up and down to adjust stock and set the mortise. If I had space I would take the PM off the cabinet and mount it to a bench. Sadly, not enough space to do that. I agree with the sharp chisels. A wise person once told me and continues to tell me: Spend the most on what you use the most. I used the PM mortise LOTS so it was one of the few higher cost purchases. Best.

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


#13 posted 07-28-2020 09:14 PM

woodetal,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Ho more Harbor Freight Mortisers

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


#14 posted 07-28-2020 09:14 PM

JackDuren,

Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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DocSavage45

9017 posts in 3690 days


#15 posted 07-28-2020 09:16 PM

shampeon,

Your experience helps! Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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