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A mortising machine is an integral component of any woodworker’s arsenal.
There is no other machine that specializes in producing good quality mortise and tenon joints like a mortiser does. The machine allows you to produce clean, square cuts in one fluid motion that consistently pairs with the opposing tenon.
The sheer variety of choices out there can make the shopping process extremely daunting and off putting. Thankfully, we have saved you the time and effort by putting in the research ourselves. Continue reading to see the pros and cons of a variety of the top bench mortising machines available in 2019, as well as a comprehensive buyers guide and FAQs section.
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In a Rush?
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
The Best Bench Mortising Machine with Reviews
Here's a list of the best bench mortising machines we found:
1. Powermatic 1791310 PM701 Bench Mortiser
Large table size
Depth settings easy to adjust
Not so Good
Handle can occasionally be awkward
In our opinion, the Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4 horsepower is by far the best bench mortising machine pick for 2019. Each key feature is delivered with brilliant build quality and design.
Sporting a large table size for an increased work area. In-line depth stop that allows stopping at pre-set depths. The handle is reversible meaning it can be changed to either side depending on the user’s preference. Chuck capacity of ½‘’ and a chisel capacity of up to ¾‘’. Stock hold down that features a double lock system to eliminate slippage when removing the chisel from the work-piece. Head stroke capacity of 5½‘’. If you plan on moving it around, the 100lb weight may become a problem, however, once in place is it incredibly sturdy.
The Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4 horsepower bench mortiser is perfect for those looking for a high performance machine that can handle a wide variety of jobs. With a strong and reliable motor and easy to use design, this mortiser will satisfy even the most seasoned woodworkers.
2. RIKON Benchtop X/Y Bench Top Mortiser
5 year warranty
Not so Good
Documentation is not clear
Depth stop doesn’t have a measurement indicator
Securing our pick for best value, the RIKON professional power tools benchtop X/Y mortiser 34-260 provides excellent must have features for a very good price.
It features a sliding X-Y axis tablet that gives you precision positioning during work. The gas filled stabiliser helps up and down control of the chisel motion. Dovetail column provides a solid consistent cut. Four chisel bits are included. Comes with a massive 5 year warranty. The manual guide may be tricky to understand to first times mortiser users.
If you are in the market for a mortiser that will give you the best bang for your buck, without cutting on quality, the RIKON professional power tools benchtop X/Y mortiser 34-260 is undoubtedly the machine for you.
3. Jet 708580 JBM-5 Bench Mortiser
5 year warranty
Not so Good
Doesn’t have a lock down system
Handle can be loose
The Jet 708580 JBM-5 1/2 horsepower bench mortiser secures our best budget pick. Despite its low price, it is highly reviewed and packs in a variety of must have features.
The handle is adjustable, so you can choose the working position most comfortable for you. Although lightweight, the rugged cast iron and steel design provides stability and durability during use. 4¾‘’ stroke. Comes with an incredible 5 year warranty. No lock down system is included.
If you are on a tight budget but still on the lookout for a top quality bench mortising machine, the Jet 708580 JBM-5 1/2 horsepower bench mortiser is a brilliant choice. Boasting an outstanding 5 year warranty, you won’t find a cheaper and more reliable introduction into the world of mortising machines.
4. Shop Fox W1671 Heavy-duty Mortising Machine
Long handle for added leverage
Not so Good
Confusing instruction manual
The Shop Fox W1671 3/4 HP heavy-duty mortising machine is a solid tool manufactured by a well known brand.
The swivel base makes it super easy to place the chisel exactly where you want it and opens up a number of new possibilities for custom mortising. Aesthetically pleasing and sturdy design. A micro adjustable fence stops wood movement during use. Longer handle for added leverage when working with thicker pieces of material. However there have been some reported issues regarding functionality. It is also rather heavy, weighing in at 90lbs.
Those looking for a stable and pin point accurate mortising machine that allows the user more freedom in how they tackle a job will be pleased with the Shop Fox W1671 3/4 HP heavy-duty mortising machine.
5. DELTA 14-651 Professional Bench Mortising Machine
Good handle leverage
Sufficient power for its size
Not so Good
Users have reported of occasional bad components
Can be hit or miss
Unsatisfactory build quality
A robust, feature rich tool, the DELTA 14-651 professional 1/2HP bench mortising machine is a strong option among its competitors.
The mortising head column can be turned 180 degrees and remounted for off-table mortising. Adjustable depth stop for consistent results. Well manufactured lever with a lock down option. Also features an open access drill chuck for easy chisel bit changing, and comes with a 2 year warranty. Unfortunately, the overall build quality doesn’t quite match up to its competitors, with some reports of occasional bad components
With over 200 solid customer reviews, the DELTA 14-651 professional 1/2HP bench mortising machine is a worthwhile investment for both casual, first time users to experienced woodworkers.
Key Factors to look out for
Motor Power/Size: Having a machine with enough power is vital to complete your jobs. The majority of mortiser machines run a ½ horsepower motor producing 1700 – 1750 RMPs, this is enough power to meet most requirements. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a slightly more powerful machine than you need that can power through your projects with ease.
Head Travel: Otherwise known as the ‘stroke’ of the machine, refers to how far the chisel bit travels along a vertical axis when the lever is pulled. The majority of machines have a stroke of 4¾‘’ to 6’’. If productivity is your priority, make sure you buy a machine with enough head travel to mortise in one movement.
Table Size: Overall work space is an important factor to consider when buying a mortiser. Insufficient work space can make your job much less efficient and a lot harder than it has to be. Chose a bench top mortiser that fits your workshop, while providing enough area to support your work.
Feed Lever: A longer handle provides more leverage, this in turn makes jobs a lot easier. When looking to buy a mortising machine, take note of the length and build quality of the feed lever. Some levers are able to be repositioned to whichever side of the machine the user prefers.
Hold Down System: A reliable hold down system is a must. Certain types of wood are harder for the chisel bit to work through. If the hold down system is weak the wood can come loose and lift off the table. A good system is strong and completely flat to ensure full contact while working.
Depth Stop: The depth stop should be easily adjustable, sturdy and at least 1/16’’ deeper than the depth of your tenons.
Chisel: Perhaps the most important factor to consider is the machines chisel capacity as it directly affects the performance and results. Most benchtop mortisers take up to ½‘’ x ½‘’ chisels, however, there are some that take up to 5/8’’ x 3/4‘’.
What is a mortiser and what does it do?
A mortiser is a specialised electric powered machine designed to cut a square or rectangular hole into a piece of wood. Mortising in this context is the action of putting a ‘hole’ into one piece of wood in-order to fit another piece inside it. This forms what is known as a mortise and tenon joint, which is commonly used in woodworking.
Why should I buy a bench top mortiser over a floor standing mortiser?
Although floor standing mortisers typically offer more power, nowadays many bench top mortisers pack enough power to take on any job you need doing. They are also a lot smaller and compact, making them perfect for those smaller work spaces.
Can a drill press be used as a mortiser?
Technically yes, a drill press can be used as a mortising machine, but with nowhere near the same level of efficiency as a dedicated mortising machine. To enable a drill press to mortise, a special attachment is needed, however, as it is not a specialised tool, without good hold downs and a guide fence it will be much less efficient and take significantly longer. The added headache is not worth it, which is why we suggest going with a bench mortising machine.
Wrapping it up
After hours of research, these are our top 5 picks for 2019. The perfect bench mortising machine must provide enough power to tackle each and every possible job thrown at it. It must also offer the user a multitude of helpful features such as a depth stop system, large table size and adequate stroke capacity.
The Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4 horsepower bench mortiser takes our top spot due to its ability to tick all the key feature boxes. From its more than sufficiently powered ¾ horsepower motor, to its innovative and easy to use features such as the functional handle and versatile fence system, the Powermatic provides an unbeatable mortising machine experience.