Benchtop Mortisers Amherst MA
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm
South Deerfield, MA
For $250 and half an hour's worth of simple improvements, you can cut precise mortises all day.
Mortising machines first answered the prayers of mortise-cutting woodworkers over 120 years ago. Today you can buy a miniaturized descendant of those old-timers. Though they're not the only powered option you have for mortising these days, their square mortises are the perfect match for tablesawn tenons. We tested eight benchtop machines designed to cut mortises up to 1/2-in. wide. They're similar in size and capacity, and all but one sell for less than $250. They all use the same specialized chisels and drill bits. The machines are easy to set up and ready to cut mortises within 20 minutes. After our own testing, we invited a group of professional and amateur woodworkers to try out the machines as well. All together, we cut hundreds of mortises with each machine, using 1/4-in. to 1/2-in. chisel sets, in mahogany, red oak and maple.
It's Okay to buy Cheap Bits
For testing, each machine was outfitted with new chisel sets from the same manufacturer. We tried sets from British, American, Austrian and Japanese manufacturers before deciding to use the cheapest ones, which are made in Taiwan. You can spend a lot of money on chisel sets, but we think these inexpensive ones (usually less than $20), are a good buy. Out of the box, they needed the least amount of sharpening. They cut clean mortises and we found them easy to resharpen. Besides, accidents happen, bits get ruined and it's less traumatic to replace a cheap set. Taiwanese sets are usually available from suppliers who sell benchtop mortisers.
A HOLLOW CHISEL with an auger bit inside is the secret to machines that cut aquare mortises. First the auger roughs out the mortise by drilling a hole and clearing the chips. To square the corners, you have to force the chisel through the wood. This can take a lot of force-a square 1/2-in. mortise chisel has a 2-in. cutting edge. That's why mortising machines take muscle to operate.
The Major Difference Between Machines Is Motor Speed